The TRUE AFRICA 100 is our list of innovators, opinion-formers, game-changers, pioneers, dreamers and mavericks who we feel are shaping the Africa of today.
Chantal Uwimana is the regional director for sub-Saharan Africa at Transparency International. She has worked across a variety of projects that include micro-financing in Burundi, social integration in Belgium and poverty alleviation in Gambia. Chantal has worked for Voluntary Services Overseas in the UK as a placement adviser in the business and management team. She has also worked for John Snow International (UK) in the Centre for Sexual and Reproductive Health as a programme officer. Chantal has a MA in development policy and management from the University of Antwerpen.
How did you end up working for Transparency International?
I had been working on several projects for rural women in Burundi and it had come to my attention that corruption was coming in the way of the achievement of these projects. But it was back in 2001 in Gambia that the issue became very clear. I worked for 18 months on a project for rural women with UNDP. The funds somehow never reached the women properly.
Our research still shows that people do not report corruption incidents enough.
I became aware of the practice of embezzlement in the development field and how some resources were not duly allocated to the populations living in poverty.
What should be on African countries agendas to deal with corruption?
There are two elements in the fight against corruption: citizen engagement and national institutions. Our research tools at Transparency International clearly show us that there are very different levels of corruption on the continent. Countries must push for citizens’ education on corruption but also teach ways to report it. Our research still shows that people do not report corruption incidents enough.
As long as citizens behave as if nothing is happening, the problem that is corruption will remain. We do not have enough leverage to fight this issue if the people pretend like it does not exist. Secondly we must advocate for the enforcement of more laws and regulations punishing corruption. There also needs to be a bigger emphasis on the private sector.
Who is your African of the year?
I would like to nominate Thuli Madonsela, the Public Protector of South Africa, and Rafael Marques de Morais, an investigative journalist from Angola.
We do not see many people in the position Thuli Madonsela has taken: standing her ground and accusing people but all the while keeping a neutral stance. She doesn’t allow herself to be influenced by others in the decisions she takes. There needs to be more autonomy at every level and branch of governance in order to be able to protest when it is needed. She is the kind of person that incites people to say ‘this is not what we want for our country.’
Journalists are very important in the struggle against corruption.
As for Rafael Marques de Morais, I believe that he has a lot of courage to hold people accountable for their actions. Journalists are very important in the struggle against corruption; they bring out the information that we use. He stands up to strong networks in the country at the risk of his own life to denounce corruption. He is putting the public good before his own.
Come back tomorrow for the next TRUE Africa 100 and keep up to date using the hashtag #TRUEAfrica