President Paul Kagame and His Highness Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar were joined by Hage Geingob, the President of Namibia, AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, Gianni Infantino the FIFA President and other delegates to unveil a new anti-corruption monument in Kigali.
The leaders first used hammers to knock down a makeshift wall with the word “corruption” inscribed in different languages.
The wall portrayed the barriers to corruption and the action to break it was ostensibly a demonstration of the determination by leaders to knock down that barrier.
The sculpture is a steel figure in the form of a hand with an open palm, which symbolizes transparency, openness and the values that underpin the struggle against corruption.
Kagame thanked Ahmed Al-Bahrani, a renowned sculptor behind the statue, and said it symbolised both the openness and the firm resolve needed to prevail in the fight against corruption.
A view of the anti-corruption monument at night at Kigali Convention Centre. Photo: Village Urugwiro.
“We thank you for this iconic work of art, which will have pride of place here in our capital city, and which will also go a long way to keep reminding us and encouraging us to always be present in this fight against corruption,” he noted.
The 12-metre statue is made up of pivots and connections which are said to underscore the importance of partnerships and collaborations globally to combat graft.
The monument is made of 186 triangular connections representing the signatories to the United Nations Convention against Corruption. It is aimed at encouraging people to have unwavering spirit and resolve in their battle against corruption.
The launch of the monument was part of the annual Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani International ‘Anti-Corruption Excellence (ACE Award)’ which was being held in Africa for the first time.
Seven people who demonstrated willingness to fight systemic corruption and champion the message of anti-corruption were awarded.
Kagame told the awardees that they collectively represent the very best of the fearless spirit and determination required to sustain zero tolerance against corruption.
The awardees for this year’s edition received trophies in the form of the same statue that was unveiled.
Hage Geingob, Namibian President said corruption is a case that “all of us need to lift hands and fight against.”
“But to do that, transparency plus accountability spells trust. We, leaders need to be transparent and accountable so that people can regain trust in us,” he noted, highlighting that when he became President he declared all his assets and asked all the public officials to do the same.
He, however, mentioned that corruption is not an African disease.
“For those who think corruption is African, then who comes to corrupt Africa?” he said.
Faki, on the other hand, highlighted that corruption is a scourge that can be addressed with good governance.
“Governance is closely linked to corruption. Poor governance is a breeding ground for corruption,” he noted, adding that an African convention on prevention and the fight against corruption was adopted by African countries to respond to that.
Four categories of the ACE Award were presented in recognition of the diverse efforts and areas of excellence in the global fight against corruption.
Kenneth Kaunda, the founding President of Zambia, received the Lifetime and Outstanding award. His youngest daughter received the award on his behalf.
In 1964, Kaunda became the first President of the newly independent Zambia and fought his entire public career to ensure good governance, and to uphold the rights of people regardless of their nationality or background.
The Academic Research and Education award went to Maria Krambia-Kapardis for her work that includes two decades of anti-corruption work, including serving as the Corruption Local Research Correspondent for the European Commission.
She has widely published reports, books and papers on the subject, and she is the founder and first Chair of Transparency International-Cyprus.
Her research includes fraud detection, anti-corruption, corporate responsibility, corporate governance, and gender issues in business and ethics.
Alban Koçi, a law professor at the University of Tirana, in Albania also received the award in the category of Academic Research and Education. He is responsible for anti-corruption programs.
These programmes include mock trials and awareness programmes focusing on combating corruption.
The Youth Creativity and Engagement went to Jean Jacques Lumumba for his anti-corruption work in the Democratic Republic of Congo, starting with his work as a whistleblower whilst serving as an executive at a major bank embroiled in a misappropriations scandal.
Jeunesses Musicales International (JMI) from Belgium, the world’s largest youth musical non-profit, also received the same award. The organisation is renowned for ‘Fair Play’, a global competition bringing artistes with music that condemn corruption.
Elnura Alkanova, an independent investigative journalist, received the Innovation Award. She has authored a number of stories that expose corruption in Kyrgyzstan.
SEMA Innovation an organisation from Tanzania, received a similar award. The organization gathers citizen voices to improve public services.
Previous awards took place in Vienna (2016), Geneva (2017) and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (2018).