According to a newly-published survey by Transparency International, most Africans think corruption is getting worse in their countries.
The Global Corruption Barometer (GCB) – Africa, released by the Berlin-based anti-corruption organisation, reveals that 53 per cent of citizens surveyed in 35 African countries think corruption is getting worse while 23 per cent say the problem is getting better.
More than 47,000 persons in the 35 countries took part in the GCB study, which “is the largest, most detailed survey of citizen views on corruption and bribery in Africa,” TI said. The previous edition of the report was released in 2015.
According to the survey respondents, the five most corrupt institutions in their countries – in decreasing order of importance – are: the police, government officials, MPs, businesses and the presidency/office of prime minister. Other corrupt segments of society identified by the GCB are judicial officers, local government officials, traditional chiefs, NGOs and religious leaders.
While governments across Africa profess to fight corruption as a cardinal policy, most citizens still believe that the state is not doing enough in that regard. In fact, 59 per cent of the surveyed persons say their governments are doing badly fighting corruption while only 34 per cent believe that their governments are doing well.
The GCB names DR Congo, Liberia and Sierra Leone as countries where most citizens surveyed said they have to pay a bribe to access public services. At the bottom of the ladder are Mauritius, Botswana and Carbo Verde. And those who have to pay bribes are often the poorest in society, the report notes.
While there are civil society initiatives tackling corruption, most citizens fear retaliation if they report corruption. And this is especially the case in Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), Gabon, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Sao Tome, Togo and Uganda, the GCB found. The encouraging finding of the report is that more than half of respondents believe that ordinary citizens can make a difference in the fight against corruption. This spirit of optimism is strongest in Eswatini, Gambia and Lesotho.
The GCB notes the role of foreign bribery and money laundering in facilitating corruption in Africa, noting that many countries around the world do not punish their companies for paying bribes to government officials abroad.
TI called for “a holistic, systematic approach” in tackling corruption in Africa. Among the measures recommended by the global NGO are the introduction of open contracting systems, the strengthening of whistle-blowers’ protection and the empowerment of media and civil society to hold governments to account.
TI also called on African governments to investigate, prosecute and punish all reported cases of corruption without any exceptions and ratify, implement and report on the African Union’s Convention to Prevent and Combat Corruption.
On the part of the international community – especially the OECD and G20 countries and offshore financial centres, TI called for the establishment of public registers on the ownership of shell companies and the enforcement of international bribery laws, including the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Officials.
The global anti-corruption organisation also called for the implementation of anti-money laundering standards in these countries to prevent their economies from being used as safe havens for the proceeds of corruption in Africa.
Transparency International (TI) is the global civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption. In collaboration with more than 100 chapters worldwide and an international secretariat in Berlin, Germany, TI raises awareness of the damaging effects of corruption and works with partners in government, business and civil society to develop and implement effective measures to tackle it. More information on the report at: www.transparency.org/GCB10/Africa