An audit into the African Union Commission has found out that the continental body is embroiled in festering corruption of a gamut varieties.
Nepotism, cronyism, contract anomalies and sexual harassment are all going on at the AU Commission according to the damning findings of the independent forensic and performance audit carried out by PricewaterhouseCoopers.
The report which had been commissioned last year by the Executive Council of the AUC also found anomalies in staff remuneration and allowances — including irregular issuance of spousal allowances and double housing allowances issued to spouses working at AUC.
It covered a review period from 2012-2018. It is said to have since been discussed by the AU policy organs, and a decision taken at the AU Summit this month, demanding that immediate action should be taken against those who were implicated in the report.
The report found out that 71% of the 3,328 staff members were on short-term contracts, and the contracts of 382 fixed-term staff — one to two-year contracts renewable three times — were renewed at least once beyond the stipulated terms.
In addition, 212 staff members were working at the AUC despite being past the retirement age of 62.
Auditors found a high number of staff were on short-term contracts and noted that such contracts can encourage abuse of staff members “whose jobs rely on ‘goodwill’/’favour.’”
“This is where sexual harassment can come up, this is where all abuses can come,” he said. “Because if you know your contract is only three months you will be begging the person that supervises you and ready to give anything for your contract to be renewed,” commented Désiré Assogbavi, a political scientist and former resident representative to the AU for the U.N. Population Fund and Oxfam
In 2018, an internal investigation found that incidents of sexual harassment were rife in the commission. The report found that harassment was mostly “perpetuated by supervisors over female employees in their charge” and that “short-term staff, youth volunteers and interns were the most vulnerable and exposed.” Senior departmental staff were identified as the main perpetrators.
At the time, Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat vowed to take immediate action to address the issues raised. However, so far it appears not much has changed.
The latest audit also found numerous recruitment anomalies that included irregular shortlisting of interview candidates, candidates interviewed and appointed without having applied for positions, uncompetitive recruitment processes, and failure to appoint the best candidate.
In addition, the report noted that more than 100 staff members within the commission were directly related to another person within the organization. Auditors were also unable to verify qualifications of some staff members.
“You find people whose qualifications could not be established by the audit. They are in the position and they could not justify if they qualify or not. Things like that happen in the commission,” Assogbavi said.
Leaked internal AU documents including a 2020 memo from Mbokazi and a 2018 letter from previous Deputy Chairperson Thomas Kwesi-Quartey to Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo have implicated Faki, the AUC’s chairperson, in acts of cronyism.
Though the audit report does not refer to any specific examples of wrongdoing by Faki, it does state that auditors did provide questionable “examples on the recruitment of staff and on the renewal of staff contracts” where the offices of the chairperson and former deputy chairperson were directly responsible.