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Public Contract Law Journal

Public Contract Law Journal Vol. 50, No. 4

A New Model for Curbing Corruption in Haiti: How a Distant Relative Across the Sea Provides a Potential Template for Combating Venal Corruption in Haiti

Nicholas Bazzarone


  • Public procurement is often the most significant vehicle used for acts of political corruption that cause devastating harm to societies.
  • The Cabo Verdean model for curbing corruption focuses on twin pillars of political accountability and active political will that can present a persuasive case for Haitian leaders to combat systemic corruption, even in extreme poverty and other limitations.
A New Model for Curbing Corruption in Haiti: How a Distant Relative Across the Sea Provides a Potential Template for Combating Venal Corruption in Haiti
Aldo Pavan via Getty Images

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The purpose of this Note is to explore the deeply rooted problem of corruption in Haiti, and present a new, relatable model from which potential Haitian leaders can learn and draw upon in their fight against systemic corruption. Systemic corruption is an especially harmful plague in developing countries and is often fostered by enabling public procurement systems. Cabo Verde’s ongoing fight against corruption represents a success story that could deeply resonate with Haitian leaders and citizens. Facing extreme famine, a complete lack of natural resources and infrastructure, and an empty national bank account upon gaining independence, Cabo Verdean leaders successfully brought the nation out of least-developing nation status through a nation-wide focus on good governance and the prevention of corruption. The Cabo Verdean anti-corruption model is built upon the twin pillars of active political will and government accountability, with effective means to promote and implement each. Haitian leaders can both draw upon this model for combating corruption, and also be encouraged by the realization that drastic political change is possible, even in the face of great hardship.

I. Introduction

On October 13, 2019, tens of thousands of Haitian protestors marched through affluent neighborhoods spilling oil, burning tires, and clashing violently with riot police as they demanded the resignation of Haitian president Jovenel Moïse. The protests left at least eighteen dead and 189 injured as the Haitian people angerly decried their betrayal by those entrusted with running their nation. While in some cases violent, these actions were not without cause; for years, frustrated Haitian citizens have publicly denounced the systemic corruption that has infiltrated every branch of their government.

Political corruption is especially harmful in developing countries, like Haiti, as procurement funds that could and should be used for infrastructure, reduction in poverty, employment, or public education are wasted on over-priced contracts that yield kickbacks for officials rather than solutions to significant social problems. Political corruption in any society erodes the legitimacy of public administrations and leaves citizens furious knowing that government representatives grow rich at their expense.

Corruption in Haiti is so deeply rooted within each branch of the political culture that some politicians have accepted it as standard practice. Open tolerance of corruption as the status quo by those with political power and influence further entrenches the exploitation of the impoverished Haitian citizenry and leaves very little incentive or potential for other leaders to change the well-established culture that stands to benefit them the most.

Scholarly efforts to address the problem in the past tend to underestimate the opposition that anti-corruption efforts face by focusing on petty, rather than venal, or systemic, political corruption. This discrepancy in focus is important because venal corruption is “far more directly antagonistic to a nation’s economic, social, and political progress than is petty corruption.” Other scholarly attempts to address systemic corruption in Haiti frequently extrapolate from successful templates derived from countries with distinct cultural, demographic, and economic features that are incompatible with the Haitian sociopolitical context. In contrast, this Note urges Haitian leaders to draw upon the successful and relatable Cabo Verdean model for curbing corruption built upon the twin pillars of political accountability and active political will.

Part II will provide a brief overview of corruption and how government procurement often acts as the most powerful apparatus for fostering the most impactful corrupt activity. Part III then discusses the complexities of corruption within the context of Haiti. Next, Part IV explores Cabo Verde’s successful model for curbing corruption and its potential application in Haitian anti-corruption efforts. Finally, Part V concludes that Haiti can learn valuable lessons from and draw upon the successful Cabo Verdean model for curbing corruption even in the face of major challenges.

II. Corruption Overview

This section will provide a brief overview of corruption and explain its harmful effects on societies generally. It will also highlight statistical improvements to overall welfare that can result from combating systemic corruption.

Corruption has many definitions and contextual applications. This Note addresses corruption on a systemic scale, also known as venal corruption. Venal corruption is characterized by “large-scale stealing of government resources” by high-level government leaders at the expense of the public good, often through the public procurement process. Venal corruption pervades the highest levels of government, and not only erodes trust in governance, rule of law, and societal stability, but can cripple economies and even lead to public disasters.

The effects of corruption can be devastating. Scholars, presidents, and professors routinely refer to corruption as “public enemy number one,” and characterize social issues such as poor education and poverty as mere branches of the deeply rooted tree of corruption. Further, estimates indicate that corruption is responsible for a fifty-eight percent decrease in per capita income in the Caribbean and Latin America, and a sixty-three percent decrease in per capita income in sub-Saharan Africa. Other research reflects corruption’s major deterrent effect on foreign direct investment, as well as the direct positive effects that reduction of corruption can have on a nation’s welfare, including increases in school enrollment rates, life expectancy, foreign direct investment, national gross domestic product (GDP), and GDP per capita.

Public procurement is often the most significant vehicle used for acts of political corruption that cause significant harm to societies. Procurement systems and agencies are vulnerable to corrupt activity due to “the close interaction between public officials and businesses,” the complexities of the procurement process, and the extremely high volume of transactions and financial interests involved in government contracts. Particularly in developing countries like Haiti, the procurement process acts as a main apparatus for contract kick-backs, bribery, and embezzlement.

III. Corruption in Haiti

A flawed procurement system is one of the key variables that contributes to the permanence of political corruption in Haiti. Section A below will address Haiti’s procurement system as well as other relevant factors that further entrench the culture of corruption in Haiti despite recent anti-corruption efforts. Section B will further explain Haiti’s deeply rooted predatory system and the subsequent need for a more relatable model for curbing corruption.

A. Key Factors Contributing to the Permanence of Corruption in Haiti

Since 1991, when Haiti first democratically elected its president, there have been periodic efforts in the fight against corruption, but little progress has been made. Over the past fifteen years, the Haitian government has taken action to combat corruption through a specialized anti-corruption unit, a newly formed national commission for public procurement, and a nominally independent auditing agency. Haiti additionally held an international anti-corruption convention in 2014, where multiple experts offered advice on how to combat corruption. Despite these efforts, corruption remains rampant. In hindsight, the country’s shortcomings regarding corruption can be attributed to three main factors that must be addressed: a corruption-enabling public procurement system, a lack of active political will, and a legal system that is incapable of holding the corrupt accountable.

1. Public Procurement in Haiti

Haiti’s public procurement system is both an apparatus for and a barrier to preventing political corruption. The Haitian procurement system suffers from a severe lack of accountability due to inherent conflicts of interest, a porous e-governance system, the existence of discretionary budget accounts, and a defective structural composition of the procurement decree.

The National Commission for Public Procurement, the normative body for government procurement in Haiti, is nominally subject to external audits from the Supreme Audit Institution. The Supreme Audit Institution, however, is also the body responsible for issuing official opinions on all draft contracts and for approving the contracts once signed. The Supreme Audit Institution therefore maintains the sole responsibility for auditing the very same public procurement contracts it has already approved. Thus, the institution responsible for auditing public contracts is unable to do so objectively and independently due to an inherent conflict of interest. Without an independent body to hold the approving institution accountable, a corrupt official within the Supreme Audit Institution could exert substantial influence over the procurement process. This inherent conflict of interest within the Supreme Audit Institution makes corruption in the procurement system all the more feasible.

Another aspect of the procurement system in Haiti that has been problematic in combating political corruption is the recently implemented e-governance system. The Haitian government’s version of e-governance, called the Computerized Expenditures Management System (SYSDEP), was designed, among other purposes, to manage budget expenditures in public contracts through an online database. SYSDEP, however, does not inspect every channel of cash-flow in the procurement process. Specifically, the system includes various exceptions for what is required to pass through the e-governance channels, such as the issuance of funds through the investment budget, the payments of debt, and public interventions, thus permitting easy circumvention of the program altogether.

A similar aspect of the public procurement system in Haiti that has stagnated the progress against corruption is the continued existence of discretionary government accounts, known as comptes courants. For years, various Haitian government agencies have created and placed portions of their public funds into these discretionary accounts that circumvent Haiti’s Supreme Audit Institution and e-governance program. With these accounts, agency officials can award contracts and receive kick-backs while “[circumventing] the normally complex ex-post control procedures of the Supreme Audit Institution.” Over the past few years the use of these accounts has declined, but reports indicate that their complete elimination is unlikely to occur anytime soon. The discretionary expenditure mode has been a deep-seated practice over the past two decades, and the rapidity and flexibility of their use make them difficult to track.

A final aspect of the Haitian procurement process that leaves the country susceptible to corruption is the law governing procurement itself. The 2005 government procurement law contains significant gaps in what types of government contracts are subject to standard Haitian procurement procedures. The procurement decree, for example, fails to subject certain types of government contracts to audit and inspection, including procurement contracts that are financed with external assistance, contracts concluded between public bodies (such as the fraudulent Petrocaribe oil contract between Haiti and Venezuela that sparked the demonstrations in October of 2019), and defense contracting. Inherent conflicts of interest, a deeply flawed e-governance system, and an ineffective government procurement law represent significant barriers in the fight against corruption in Haiti that must be addressed before substantial progress can be made.

2. Zero to Partial Political Will

To break free from the various tentacles of corruption, Haitian leaders must persistently apply active political will to transform their political culture by taking the bold and risky actions of influencing, directing, and altering existing norms. A significant barrier to such progress is that some Haitian politicians have exhibited zero political will by accepting corruption as the status quo. Other past leaders have exhibited partial political will, such as when former President Aristide promised to rid the government of its corrupt system upon election, only later to use his power to strengthen it. Rather than genuinely challenging the status quo, other Haitian leaders have masked corrupt intentions with the façade of expediting reconstruction or providing public services that rarely reach the intended citizenry. Without strong support from political leaders and a genuine top-down desire for change, no anti-corruption program, e-governance system, or corruption-investigating task force will be effective against deeply rooted venal corruption.

Additional evidence of the lack of active political will to fight corruption in Haiti is the government’s reluctance to adequately invest in its human capital through education, a variable with which scholars have found a significant causal relationship in the reduction of corruption. The relationship is especially significant when education is defined as lifelong learning, or knowledge gained through primary, secondary, and tertiary levels. Reports published as recently as March, 2020 indicate that in Haiti, only one of every two Haitians age fifteen and over is literate, and more than 350,000 children and youth are unable to attend school at all since eighty-five percent of schools are privately run and charge fees that are unaffordable for poverty stricken families.

3. Enforcement Issues Within the Haitian Legal System

An additional challenge to combating corruption in Haiti is the difficulty of holding corrupt actors accountable through the legal system. The structural composition of the Haitian Constitution, prohibition against plea-bargaining, and the lack of a truly independent judicial branch are three primary obstacles to enforcing laws against corruption.

First, the Constitution of Haiti stands as a barrier to holding the corrupt accountable by mandating the prosecution of high-level members of parliament before the inherently political Senate, rather than within the theoretically more independent judicial branch. Thus, the enforcement of anti-corruption laws against influential parliament members is left to those who likely have the most to lose in a successful fight against corruption, as evidenced by the recent lack of political will by parliament members.

Second, enforcement is even more unlikely due to the fact that Haitian law prohibits plea-bargaining, which has proven to be an extremely effective tool for curbing corruption schemes. For example, reports indicate that most of the major scandals uncovered recently in Brazil would not have been possible without the incentives established by Brazil’s plea-bargaining system. The Brazilian plea-bargaining system led to the unravelling of the infamous Operation Car Wash scandal, resulting in legal charges against two Brazilian presidents. In Haiti, however, individuals who may be unintentionally caught in a corrupt scheme have little incentive to come forward with pertinent information as they are likely to face the same or similar level of criminal charges as their peers. Thus, the illegality of plea-bargaining leaves a powerful tool of enforcement off the table for curbing corruption.

A final impediment to curbing corruption in Haiti is the difficulty in enforcing anti-corruption laws within the judiciary branch. Recent efforts to enhance government transparency led to the discovery of billions of dollars of corrupt proceeds in the hands of high-level officials, including the current President Moïse, but none of these investigations resulted in prosecutions. The furthest the government has gone in terms of holding the corrupt accountable is the firing of twenty-one assistant prosecutors due to allegations of corruption; however, “the perception of corruption remain[s] widespread in all branches of government at all levels, [and still] no Haitian government has prosecuted a high-level official for corruption.”

One reason for the lack of enforcement within the judiciary is the branch’s lack of true independence from the other branches. In Haiti, both the legislative and the executive branches regularly exert significant influence on the judicial, erasing any credibility or independence of the judicial branch, which should be insulated from external meddling. The lack of an independent judiciary, along with the structural composition of the Constitution and illegality of plea bargaining, renders prosecution of high-level, influential politicians both difficult and unlikely.

B. A Deeply Rooted Predatory System and Its Consequences

Deep historical roots of a predatory system in which powerful political elites enrich themselves at the expense of the impoverished, reaching back to Haiti’s establishment, have made combating corruption especially difficult, subsequently rendering anti-corruption efforts that only partially address corruption destined to fail. This section will first explore the causes of these systemic elitist roots, and then identify the powerful ramifications of this deeply embedded system on recent anti-corruption efforts.

1. The Roots of the System

While initially the powerful French Empire and white slave owners grew rich off of Haitian slave labor, upon gaining independence, the Haitian people continued to be exploited by various powerful nations including Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The United States further entrenched the practice of predatory elitism by assuming complete control over Haitian finances from 1915–1934, while simultaneously creating a governing Haitian Gendarmerie controlled by the US military to protect its assets. These efforts sustained a system that enriched both foreign and domestic elites at the expense of an oppressed working class. Even when the United States was officially ousted from a physical presence in Haiti in 1930, U.S. government officials trained the new Haitian officials and retained economic advantages across the island.

These foreign elites established, left behind, and continued to enable a political and societal norm that entitled whoever was in a position of power to use such political power and influence to benefit themselves at the cost of the rest of society’s needs. Furthermore, not long after the ouster of the United States, the Haitian elites left in power continued with corrupt practices, establishing a series of kleptocratic governments, resulting in the World Bank eventually ranking Haiti as the second-most perceived corrupt country in the world in 2002.

2. Consequences of the System Today: A Steep Uphill Battle for Internal and External System Challengers

Efforts to support transparency, expunge discretionary accounts, and institute a new e-governance program were all laudable efforts, but none have been able to make a significant impact in Haiti due to the lasting consequences of a deeply embedded corrupt system. To avoid the pitfalls of previous attempts to counter venal corruption in Haiti, future efforts must consider and properly address these complex causes and systemic consequences.

The first identifiable and critical consequence of the country’s corrupt predatory system is that powerful political elites have great incentive to protect the system, and very little incentive to change it, even if they are not directly engaging in corrupt acts. The strength of the status quo presents a steep uphill battle for those within it because the costs of honesty are extremely high; one person behaving ethically cannot change the system, and fighting against the system alone will lead to ostracization and political harm, as well as missing out on a personal economic opportunity. Due to these factors, one might feel justified in not fighting against the system due to the poor salaries of government officials. As a result, corrupt political behaviors like accepting kickbacks and bribes are customary. In short, the powerful political actors of systemically corrupt countries like Haiti are the most capable of making the changes to limit corruption, but they are also the actors that stand to benefit most from the status quo. Thus, Haitian officials have great incentive to avoid all forms of transparency and accountability. Ongoing maintenance of the corrupt status quo is evidenced by the fact that the Haitian government was unable to institute any form of government auditing, a legitimate procurement system, standard financial management practices, or even an approved national budget from 1997 to 2001. Some scholars believe the government is still unable and unwilling to take legitimate steps to fight the system that enriched the Haitian elite for decades. Understanding both the existence of and causes behind such staunch opposition is essential, as new methods are needed to decrease the benefits and increase the costs of corrupt acts.

A second important consequence of a corrupt system created and fostered by foreign actors in particular is a resulting Haitian skepticism of foreign influence. This understandable suspicion may hinder the ability of external anti-corruption efforts to resonate with the Haitian people. The constant battle over Haitian resources throughout the nation’s history has left Haiti with a struggling economy, no control over its own finances, constant imposition of western reforms, and for Haitian citizens, a “prickly nationalism, [and] distrust of foreigners. . . . International attempts to offer aid after the devastating earthquake in 2010 only increased national doubt toward foreign solutions, as efforts in many cases ended in disaster. Haitian mistrust of foreign imposition, compounded with significant underlying opposition by controlling elites to anti-corruption efforts make any well-intentioned formula for success offered by an external source likely bound for failure unless it takes both considerations into account. Not accounting for these factors is likely one main reason why recent anti-corruption efforts have floundered so miserably, and is a significant reason why a more relatable and comprehensive model for curbing corruption is essential.

C. The Need for a More Relatable Model for Realistic Success

Due to widespread failure of anti-corruption efforts in Haiti, as well as the “prickly nationalism” throughout Haitian society towards foreign influence, a new, relatable model for curbing corruption is needed from which to draw inspiration. The Haitian perspective on outside influence reflects a statement made by Cabo Verdean Prime Minister Pedro Pires, who said that “[a] poor country cannot afford to adopt policies from the rich.” This section will consider similarities between Haiti and Cabo Verde and suggest why using aspects of the Cabo Verdean model for approaching corruption could be effective in Haiti.

The Cabo Verdean model is more relatable to the Haitian people than perhaps any other due to the two countries’ striking similarities. The countries are nearly identical in climate, constant threat of natural disaster, limited natural resources, heavy reliance on foreign aid and remittances, brain drain, creation of their own creole languages, and in dealing with the difficulties that come with overcoming the history of a nation established on the backs of slaves. Perhaps the most significant similarity, however, is that upon fighting successfully for independence from foreign influence, each nation faced extreme poverty and an uphill battle for survival from the beginning. The unique solidarity created by these shared circumstances is essential because Haitians, already skeptical of foreign advice, cannot attribute the resulting success of Cabo Verde to wealth, technology, natural resources, oil, or any other external force beyond the internally instituted sound policies and good governance.

IV. Lessons from the Cabo Verdean Model

By examining and drawing from the Cabo Verdean model of curbing corruption, Haitian officials can identify key areas that could make significant impacts on systemic corruption, even in the face of extreme poverty and other limitations. The first two sections herein will explore Cabo Verde’s twin pillars of active political will and accountability respectively. The final section will explore how aspects of these pillars might work within the context of Haiti.

A. Active Political Will

Research indicates that the overriding factor in every successful anticorruption strategy implemented in sub-Saharan Africa, including Cabo Verde, is the active expression of political will by influential leaders. Since gaining independence from Portugal in 1975, Cabo Verdean leaders have exhibited both the political will to inspire and incorporate effective measures toward the cause of building a nation free of corruption from the top-down, and the political will to empower their people toward the same cause from the bottom-up. In spite of severe and constant hardship, Cabo Verdean leaders have successfully led their nation to be classified as the third-least perceived corrupt country in Africa. The following sections will address each of these forms of active political will, Cabo Verde’s first pillar of success for curbing and preventing corruption.

1. Bottom-Up Empowerment

One of the main objectives of the first Cabo Verdean government was to invest in human capital to empower its people from the bottom-up to expect quality governance. Empowerment from the bottom-up, or emboldening and providing the necessary tools for a nation’s citizenry to hold leaders accountable, is an essential first step in combating corruption. This is because any attempt at changing or instituting a culture of honest governance requires human capacity to deliver the necessary policies and solutions. Cabo Verdean leaders have empowered their citizenry in the fight against corruption by publicly addressing the issue of corruption in terms of self-interest, investing in human capital through education, and maintaining a free media.

The first technique Cabo Verdean leaders have incorporated to empower their people to expect a nation free of corruption is a persistent emphasis on good governance as a valuable commodity in each citizen’s self-interest. Political speeches routinely reference the nation’s progress through its Corruption Perception Index ranking and encourage even more progress against corruption while helping citizens understand that the foreign direct investment on which their economy heavily relies is greatly impacted by public corruption perceptions. As one scholar noted:

Faced with a lack of natural resources, Cape Verde has made good governance one of its most marketable products. The government could have played the role of worthy beggars with nothing to feed themselves with; the victims of no resources, cruel slavery, negligent colonization and isolated location. Instead, they have chosen the path of offering what so few can offer in Africa—good public management and political stability.

By mobilizing politically, Cabo Verdean citizens promote good governance in terms of self-interest, rather than treating corruption as simply a crime that needs to be ferreted out. Each citizen feels empowered to hold others, especially those in power, to a higher ethical standard. In Cabo Verde, the absence of corruption is understood as the country’s most valuable and most marketable product. This refined perception of corruption is due to a consistent and empowering emphasis from the nation’s leaders on the importance of good governance in terms of self-interest to their citizens.

A second method leaders have used in Cabo Verde to fight corruption and promote good governance from the bottom-up is investment in human capital through public education. The massification of public education is regarded by at least one leader as one of the most important and instrumental actions the young nation decided to undertake. While only two high schools existed on the entire archipelago upon independence, each local government since 1975 has made education a top priority, resulting in Cabo Verde achieving one of the highest literacy rates in Africa, with each municipality throughout the nation currently operating a secondary school (high school). To further empower its youth, the Cabo Verdean government has additionally decided to insert human rights into each school’s curriculum in an effort to embed the idea and expectation of corruption-free governance into the national culture.

The effects of improved education in developing countries on curbing corruption are significant. Scholars have found both a “strong positive correlation” between universal free education and low levels of corruption, and direct cross-country evidence that education leads to the reduction of corruption. One theory explains that the empowering effects of higher quality literacy and public access to information about the ethics and responsibilities of government generate political trust and incline citizens to demand social justice and expect good governance. “Expanded educational opportunities . . . are [thus] a major reason why [education-promoting] . . . policies [lead] to greater equality and overtime, societal refusals to accept corruption as a norm.” Manifesting active political will by investing in human capital through a profound emphasis on education, Cabo Verdean leaders have helped their country to be ranked in the top tier of regional countries in human development, literacy, and good governance.

A third way in which Cabo Verdean leaders have empowered their people to hold themselves and their government accountable is by fostering one of the freest media environments in Africa. The Cabo Verdean Constitution itself ensures the freedoms of the press, confidentiality of sources, and access to information. Additionally, Cabo Verdean leaders have actively engaged in using these freedoms to curb corruption by “promoting political criticism through [the government’s] financial support for all registered newspapers and opposition parties, and to human rights groups” to embed the freedom of speech into the national culture.” In stark contrast to other developing countries, including Haiti, there have been zero reports of violence against journalists or media members in Cabo Verde. Investigative journalists are essential actors in the battle for good governance by “turn[ing] corruption from a seemingly low risk, high reward activity… to one that is high risk and low [reward].” The empowerment of citizenry through active political will in the media is essential to winning the fight against corruption.

2. Top-Down Political Will: By the Top for the Top

Cabo Verdean leaders have illustrated top-down political will first by establishing truly independent anti-corruption bodies that are checked and balanced by other anti-corruption bodies, and second by inspiring ethical behavior through their own personal examples. One important example of top-down political will is the creation of independent anti-corruption bodies armed with investigative and prosecutorial power with broad instructions to investigate political corruption anywhere. Cabo Verdean leaders successfully instituted an independent “High Authority Against Corruption” commission. This commission is independent from the procurement process and is tasked with investigating corruption in any branch of the government. Acting as both a check on the commission itself, as well as a means for enforcement, Cabo Verde implemented three new, independent prosecutors to combat corruption.

The government of Cabo Verde continues to work to curb corruption, and is forming yet another independent counsel for the prevention of corruption that encourages citizens to submit to it “any indication or information” pertaining to corruption to hold those in power accountable. Furthermore, both its President and Minister of Justice are working with Cabo Verdean-American lawyers to implement a plea-bargaining policy to further facilitate the enforcement of anti-corruption laws. Through the creation of truly independent corruption commissions with the authority to prosecute and continual efforts to combat political corruption, Cabo Verdean leaders have demonstrated the top-down political will and persistence necessary to effectively curb corruption.

Another manifestation of top-down political will is illustrated through the example and personal integrity of Cabo Verde’s highest-ranking officials. President Pires, president from 2001–2011, exemplified top-down active political will by advocating for and demonstrating good governance to the extent that he won a rarely offered and highly coveted award for his leadership and anti-corruption integrity. Furthermore, the current President, Jorge Carlos Fonseca, exemplifies his personal political will to combat corruption by choosing to “[live] with his family in his private home daily, returning home for lunch, and using the presidential mansion only as an office and for official functions.” These examples of political integrity from those at the very top of the political structure help uphold an expectation of corruption-free governance for both politicians and citizens alike.

B. Accountability

The Cabo Verdean model for curbing corruption incorporates two main methods of holding those with power accountable that have proven successful. These are the promotion of government transparency by Constitution and institution and the enforcement of anti-corruption laws through actionable legal rights and an independent judiciary.

1. Fostering Transparency Via Constitution and Institution

The promulgation of public information is an important first step in curbing corruption. The Cabo Verdean model for curbing corruption includes both constitutional provisions and transparency-fostering institutions, each specifically designed to promote the political transparency necessary to prevent corruption.

Cabo Verde’s Constitution, for example, mandates citizen access to administrative files and records, except those dealing with national security. A constitutional amendment enacted in 1999 further promotes government transparency through the creation of the Provedor de Justiça, an independent body with which any citizen can file a complaint against public officials for suspicious activity, including procurement irregularities. The law additionally mandates all state organs to cooperate with the Provedor de Justiça, thus preventing certain branches of government from encroaching on the sovereignty of others to escape accountability.

The Tribunal de Contas (Controller General), which audits public spending and is tasked with ensuring that all public investments yield tangible results, represents a critical Cabo Verdean institution geared toward increased government accountability. This institution stands apart from the High Authority Against Corruption so that each body acts as an accountability agent against the other. A second, less formal institution that promotes transparency is the Cabo Verde government’s official gazette, which discloses the salary of each acting judge, and is updated and distributed to the public on a regular basis.

Another institution created by the government to keep government actors accountable through transparency is Cabo Verde’s e-governance system: the Integrated System of Budget and Financial Management (SIGOF). SIGOF is regarded as a giant leap forward in Cabo Verdean government auditing, and a “jewel in the crown” of the nation’s highly coveted electronic governance plan that many African leaders have visited the islands to learn about. The process of auditing and approving budgets within each department that took months to complete prior to digitization was shortened to four days, greatly hindering the ability of possible corrupt actions to slide under the radar. Unlike the Haitian e-governance program that struggles to identify and audit discretionary accounts, SIGOF also tracks every government revenue and expenditure without exception, including the movement of money within the federal government budget, the treasury, and the controller’s office of public procurement.

One reason why effective e-governance systems help curb corruption is because they turn a previously face-to-face transaction into a “machine- moderated transaction that [can] be overseen remotely and technologically, [in which] the ability to act by a bureaucrat in a less than even-handed manner [is thus] reduced.” The Cabo Verdean system even allows citizens to inspect the expenditures of their government officials. SIGOF allows every Cabo Verdean direct access to the government budget, to inspect electoral rolls or find information about public officials. By 2008, citizens reported on the positive effects of SIGOF, including increased transparency, more effective tax collection, and a great reduction in opportunities for corruption and fraud.

Through both its constitutional and institutional anti-corruption efforts, the Cabo Verdean model for curbing corruption successfully enhanced government transparency, offering the citizen and government official alike access to the information necessary to root out corruption.

2. Enforcement of the Laws

Without adequate implementation and enforcement of the law, anti-corruption efforts are ineffective in holding government leaders accountable. This section will illustrate how the Cabo Verdean model fosters political accountability through actionable constitutional rights and the formation of measures that promote true independence of the judiciary branch.

One method of enforcement that the earliest Cabo Verdean leaders included in their model to fight and prevent corruption is the actionability of constitutional rights, a strategy now widely regarded as vital to combat corrupt practice in Africa. The Cabo Verdean Constitution, for example, lists over sixty rights and freedoms, and holds that the state and other public entities bear civil liability for the violation of any of the constitutional provisions. Making each freedom and right actionable enables citizens to hold officials accountable, and offers an effective means to combat corrupt practices.

The Cabo Verdean model of good governance also ensures that once the corrupt are taken to court, they are held accountable by a truly independent judiciary. Cabo Verdean leaders took measures to ensure that the judiciary is both nominally and functionally independent. For example, by African standards, Cabo Verdean judges are awarded good salaries, and are provided with both a free car and free housing, which works to disincentivize the entertainment of bribes. The Constitution also forbids all judges from acting as members of any political party or exercising any other public functions. Importantly, the Constitution also certifies that judges cannot be “suspended, transferred, retired, or dismissed except in cases specified by law.” While the mandate may seem obvious, in other developing countries like Haiti, it is the customary practice of executive officials to appoint and remove judges for purely political purposes. By fostering a truly independent judiciary, Cabo Verde’s judicial branch has been able to avoid serious corruption problems.

The existence and maintenance of a truly independent judiciary is vital in holding government officials accountable. As one scholar notes:

Judges free of political or executive direction are essential to the effective employment of legal means to curb corruption. The existence of a truly independent and fair judiciary provides the checks and balances and separations of power that are essential to democratic practice and the rule of law. . . . A strong association exists between the control and diminution of corruption and court systems that operate free of executive and party interference.

By fostering political transparency via constitution and institution, and simultaneously encouraging the enforcement of any corrupt behavior regardless of branch or political influence, Cabo Verdean leaders have created a comprehensive anti-corruption strategy that has significantly curbed corruption in the country.

C. Lessons From the Cabo Verdean Model in the Context of Haiti

While Cabo Verde and Haiti share significant similarities, they also have significant differences that make a complete adoption of the Cabo Verdean model both naive and unlikely to cure all of Haiti’s corruption problems. Furthermore, despite significant improvements, the Cabo Verdean model should not be considered immune from corruption; its citizens still regularly call for improvement and further measures to combat corruption. However, the two countries’ similar histories, challenges, and unique characteristics render the successes found in one context potentially significant for the other. While multiple aspects of the Cabo Verdean model could ultimately prove beneficial in the fight against corruption in Haiti, this Note suggest Haitian adoption of two specific ideas: first, the elimination of conflicts of interest and easy audit circumvention within the public procurement system, and second, the investment in human capital through universal education.

1. Amending the Haitian Procurement Law and E-Governance System

While Cabo Verdean leadership upon independence was not hampered by the difficulty the Haitian government has found in uprooting systems and laws already in place, aspects of the Cabo Verdean procurement method may still prove beneficial in a Haitian context. The first aspect of the Cabo Verdean model that Haitian leaders could consider incorporating is the implementation of a truly independent auditing institution, similar to Cabo Verde’s Tribunal de Contas, to audit public spending unilaterally. Haitian leaders would need to revise the existing procurement decree so that auditing of the procurement system is conducted by a completely separate and independent body free from conflicts of interest and executive influence to promote both transparency and accountability throughout the government.

A new or amended Haitian decree should remove the Supreme Audit Institution’s power of auditing its own approved procurement contracts and vest the power of procurement auditing in an entirely separate government body or institution, such as the Unité de Lutte Contre la Corruption (ULCC), or Unit of the Fight Against Corruption. By eliminating the conflicts of interests within the procurement system, the auditing of government funds is more likely to detect unusual or corrupt activity, and therefore promote both transparency and accountability among political actors.

Similarly, the Haitian procurement law needs to be amended to require contracts between public-bodies, contracts that include external assistance, and defense contracts to pass through the proper channels of audit and inspection just as every other government contract to further ensure procurement transparency. By eliminating the inherent loopholes in the procurement law, at the very least, corrupt officials will have a harder time avoiding scrutiny and inspection.

Lastly, the Haitian e-governance system needs to be adjusted to cover every budgetary expenditure without exception, just as the Cabo Verdean model tracks every government expense without exception. An effective e-governance system like Cabo Verde’s greatly increases government transparency and the effectiveness of government audits that can detect corrupt behavior. By eliminating conflicts of interest and easy pathways for contract circumvention, Haitian leaders will exhibit top-down political will in their promotion of transparency and accountability.

2. Investment in Human Capital

Haitian leaders should also consider spending a significant part of their country’s budget on investment in human capital through education reforms. These reforms would both mobilize citizens against the current custom of political corruption, and also help prevent its prevalence in the future. Multiple scholars have indicated that the expansion of education is a major factor in preventing corruption, while others have found significant statistical relationships between increasing levels of education and a decrease in political corruption. The first critical educational reform to implement is the universalization of public education, including secondary school. Leaders would need to spearhead efforts to build and fund public schools and work with educational non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on the ground for assistance throughout the process. Similarly, leaders need to invest in the capabilities and ethical education of teachers by providing universal anti-corruption curriculum manuals and ethical codes of conduct.

In order to further empower its young people to join in the cause of anti-corruption and social cohesion, the government of Haiti could additionally require civics courses in each classroom to instill values of good governance and political justice. Investing in public education could enhance national literacy, provide public access to information about government responsibilities, generate social trust, and lead the future officials of Haiti to refuse to accept corruption as a norm. It could also have significant positive economic ramifications. Just ten years after Cabo Verde provided for universal public education, the country’s per capita income rose from $175 to $1000. The educational aspect of the Cabo Verdean model is both feasible and invaluable in the fight against both corruption and the poverty that attracts it, as evidenced by Cabo Verde’s own leaders identifying it as one of the most significant successes since the country’s inception.

V. Conclusion

The Cabo Verdean model presents a persuasive case for implementing many of its elements into the ongoing Haitian effort to combat systemic corruption. Due to the archipelago-nation’s relatable hardships, its success cannot be attributed by potential Haitian skeptics to external factors such as the discovery of oil or an abrupt turn in the market. The Cabo Verdean story also presents an encouraging picture of hope for Haitians who may feel as if their country has hit rock bottom. Cabo Verde was only able to pull itself out of despair when it realized that it had no other option than to rely on good governance; its options were either to govern well and attract foreign investment, or suffer the consequences of severe hunger, underdevelopment, and natural disaster. Haiti too has reached a pivotal point in its history, and its leaders can choose to either protect the predatory system and continue to suffer the ramifications of corruption and hopelessness, or they can start taking the difficult, politically risky, and courageous steps towards fixing the system.