While no African official has yet resigned as a result of the Panama Papers, African journalists involved in the investigation say they have given Africans a wake up call and could even lead to government action.
The twin sister of DRC’s leader Joseph Kabila, the nephew of South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma and business people allegedly linked to Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe are all named in the Panama Papers. The Mossack Fonseca leak – the biggest data leak ever – have revealed the names and alleged financial affairs of top officials from at least 15 different sub-Saharan African countries or people linked to them have been named.
While the practice of keeping money abroad is not illegal, the revelations by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ (ICIJ) team of about 400 journalists have made global headlines. African Union chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said the African money kept in foreign banks should be repatriated to the continent.
At a conference last year, former South African president Thabo Mbeki noted that a report commissioned by the AU had found that Africa was losing $50 billion(43 billion euros) a year through illicit cash flows – money that could go into education, health care or investments on the continent. A report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) even puts the amount at $150 billion.
Several African governments have either remained silent or maintained that the officials were acting within their legal rights when confronted with the disclosure. African journalists who worked on the investigation believe that the Panama Papers will have a strong impact: