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Africa Accountability Watch - Issue #6

Africa Accountability Watch
Africa Accountability Watch - Issue #6
By Lolan Ekow Sagoe-Moses • Issue #6 • View online
A monthly newsletter on action to advance accountability in Africa 
Welcome to the sixth edition of Africa Accountability Watch.  If you’re new here, welcome. Check out the previous edition here.
If you’re returning, it’s great to see you.  
Every month, I’ll share high-level analyses of key developments in investigations, prosecutions, strategic litigation and civic movements bending the arc of the moral universe towards justice in Africa. 
I’d love to hear from you: say hello or share feedback on what you like, didn’t like or what you’d like to see in the next edition by replying to this email.

Prosecutions and Probes
The Latest Prosecutions, Investigations, and Reporting You Should Know About  
The Big Story
Angola Jails Former President’s Son-in-Law Over Corruption
What Happened: 
  • A Luanda District Court sentenced Carlos São Vicente to 9 years in prison and ordered him to pay compensation of $500 million to the state.  
  • The compensation constitutes only a fraction of the over $1 billion that  Mr. São Vicente allegedly syphoned from Angolan state oil company SONANGOL through his insurance company AAA Seguros. 
  • According to the government, the amount was embezzled between 2000 - 2016 through an illegal monopoly and tax evasion. 
Why It Matters:
  • The ruling means the Angolan government will be able to recover some of the embezzled money by selling off several AAA Seguros properties it confiscated in the lead up to the trial. 
  • The conviction of Mr. Vicente is the latest development in Angolan President João Lourenço’s anti-corruption fight. According to the Angolan Attorney General, the government has recovered over $11 billion since it embarked on the anti-corruption drive in 2017. 
Lingering Questions:
  • How much of the stolen funds will Angola be able to recover? An initial Swiss court order to freeze $900 million in Mr. Vicente and AAA’s bank accounts was partially overturned last year and a case against Mr. Vicente is still pending in Switzerland.
Other Notable Developments
  • ECOWAS Court to Rule on Case Seeking to Block Allegedly Corrupt Ghanaian Scheme. The case was filed by Transparency International and its Ghanaian chapter against the government of Ghana. The NGOs are seeking a declaration that the Agyapa Royalties Scheme violates the rights of Ghanaians to determine how their wealth and natural resources are disposed of  under Article 21 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The Agyapa Royalties Scheme is a proposal to securitise royalties the government earns from gold mines operating in the country. The government then planned to sell a 49% stake in the value of the royalties to private individuals using an offshore corporate vehicle in the British territory of Jersey, and at a discount to their market value. Ghana’s Special Prosecutor highlighted several corruption red flags in an analysis of the scheme. The court is expected to deliver its ruling on July 13.
Power to the People
How Everyday People Are Holding Institutions Accountable 
The Big Story
Nigerian Court Directs Government to Allocate 35% of Public Sector Jobs to Women
What Happened: 
  • The Federal High Court in Abuja ruled in favour of the Nigerian Women Trust Fund and eight other NGOs, who argued that the government’s failure to appoint women to at least 35% of public sector jobs, as outlined in the national gender policy, is a breach of provisions of Nigeria’s constitution. 
  • The NGOs’ lawyer argued that gender disparities in Nigeria’s public service and the fact that only 7 of Nigeria’s 36 Ministers are female are sufficient evidence of systematic gender discrimination. 
  • The presiding judge, Hon. Justice Okorowo held that “Formulating Policies based on sex, stereotyping and feudal and patriarchal traditions will no longer be tolerated due to the supremacy of constitutional values… This court is not expected to achieve less for Nigerian women, since the constitutional obligation of this court is to apply the law.” 
  • She interpreted Article 14(3) of Nigeria’s constitution to include women as a ‘sectional group’ who must be fairly represented in the federal government and its agencies. 
Why It Matters:
  • The ruling should give gender rights groups in Nigeria more leverage to pressure the Nigerian government to take concrete steps to improve gender parity. Failure to abide by the court’s ruling could mean contempt proceedings, and potentially fines and/or imprisonment for government officials. 
  • The judge’s interpretation of ‘sectional groups’ could also prompt other marginalised groups to seek judicial enforcement of similar national policies designed to combat discrimination. 
Lingering Questions: 
  • What will the government do to implement the court’s ruling? The government must take systematic and sustained action to reverse the decades-long gender discrimination in Nigeria’s public service. Read more here
Other Notable Developments
  • South African Court Rules that Clean Air is Constitutional Right. The case was first brought in 2019 by the Work Trust and Vukani Environmental Movement to halt high levels of pollution from coal plants in the Highveld area. The Pretoria High Court Judge ordered the Minister for the Environment to implement the Highveld Priority Area (HPA) Air Quality Management Plan within 12 months of his court order. South African power company Eskom claims that if the order is applied it will be forced to immediately close 16,000 MW of installed coal-fired capacity because it does not have the money to refit its plants to reduce emissions. Read more here
  • Zambian ICT Authority Agrees to Provide Reasons for Internet Shutdowns Within 36 Hours. The agreement was contained in a consent judgment reached with the NGO Chapter One which brought judicial review proceedings against the Authority for its shutdown of the internet during the 2021 Zambian elections. ZICTA also agreed not to take or omit to take any action “that may inhibit or interrupt the flow of and uninhibited access to information on all available telecommunications platforms under their control…where the interests of consumers and their consumer and constitutional rights are threatened.”
Reading List
Recent Reports to Keep an Eye On
  • Africa Integrity Indicators Round 10 Provisional Report The report evaluates 54 in practice indicators across Rule of Law, Accountability & Elections, Civil Service, Freedom Of Information, Rights, Gender,  Health, Welfare and Vital Records in all 54 African countries. (One small personal plug: I helped review the Ghana section of the Report).
Did you enjoy this issue?
Lolan Ekow Sagoe-Moses

A monthly newsletter on action to advance accountability in Africa

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