International Journal of Law in Context

Research Article

Corruption, the Southern African Development Community Anti-corruption Protocol and the principal–agent–client model

Indira Carra1*

a1 University of Surrey


Since the 1990s, a number of anti-corruption conventions have been adopted due to pressure from international financial institutions, donor countries and governments of major industrialised nations. One of these conventions is the Anti-corruption Protocol adopted by the Southern African Development Community. This article examines this Convention against the backdrop of the principal–agent–client (PAC) model which influences much of the current anti-corruption measures ranging from legal and civil service reform through to privatisation of the public sector. In focusing on the efforts to fight and prevent corruption through legal and public sector reform, this paper highlights the limitations of externally imposed solutions largely driven by donors. Using Tanzania, a country that has seen extensive technical input from donor agencies in reforming the law and bureaucratic structures, as an illustration, this article argues that the limited success of such donor-driven anti-corruption strategies is attributable to a number of reasons ranging from reform policies of donors and paternalistic attitudes to political shifts and antipathy towards external demands for reforms that are fuelled by the colonial past. This paper recommends that for a recipient country to take ownership of the anti-corruption strategies it is important to tailor the PAC model to the cultural, social and political context of the recipient country so that the solutions are seen as an indigenous initiative, thus enabling sustainable change in attitudes and behaviour.


* I should like to thank Professor Odd Helge Fjeldstad, Dr Tina Soreide and the Chr. Michelsen Institute, Bergen, Norway for their hospitality in June 2007 and the UK Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) for funding my research project on Corruption in International Business. I also thank the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments. Any infelicities remain my own.