Nearly 75 million people are estimated to have paid a bribe in the past year
Transparency International’s latest “People and Corruption: Africa Survey” highlights a clear disparity between a few strong performing countries in regard to the fight against corruption and the many weak performers across the continent. However, there is no government which is rated positively on its anti-corruption efforts by a clear majority of its citizens according to the report. Out of 28 Sub-Saharan governments surveyed, 18,in fact, are seen as completely failing to address corruption.
Meanwhile, the majority of Africans (58 per cent of the 43,143 spoken to) say that corruption has increased over the past year. This is particularly the case in South Africa where more than four-in-five citizens (83%) say they have seen corruption rise recently.
The highest levels of corruption are seen by the public to be found among the police and business executives. The police have regularly been rated as highly corrupt, but the strongly negative assessment of business executives is a new development, maintains the report.
More than one in five Africans are affected by bribery, the highly impoverished being the most vulnerable, as 22 per cent of those who came into contact with a public service in the past 12 months say they paid a bribe.The situation is worst in Liberia where 69 per cent paid a bribe. Across the region, poor public service users are twice as likely as the rich people to have paid a bribe. The report estimates that the number of people who have paid bribes in the past year across the region to be nearly 75 million. Some of the payments were made to escape punishments by the police or courts.
In many countries it is possibleto pay off police officers to ignore any crime, however horrific and devastating. The report specifically mentions of a nine year old girl in Zimbabwe who was raped on her way to school by a man who infected her with HIV. Initially arrested by the police her attacker was later released after paying a bribe.
Shockingly, many who are forced to pay bribes do so to get access to the basic services that they desperately need.
In what is consistent with TI’s previous surveys, a lack of progress is observed in addressing bribery among the police and in courts, institutions which are pivotal for the security of citizens as well as rule of law.
Corruption creates and increases poverty and exclusion says Transparency International’s Head José Ugaz. “While corrupt individuals with political power enjoy a lavish life, millions of Africans are deprived of their basic needs like food, health, education, housing, access to clean water and sanitation.”
Nonetheless, the findings of the report also demonstrate that there are a small number of countries in the region that are seen as doing quite well in addressing the plague of corruption – where only a few people have to pay bribes or where citizens feel that they can contribute to stopping corruption. Citizens in Botswana, Lesotho, Senegal and Burkina Faso tend to have the most positive views compared with citizens from other countries in the region.
As corruption can be a major hindrance for development and economic growth, and as it weakens people’s trust in government and the accountability of public institutions, the report calls on governments to act against the corruption which exists in their country. Additionally a strong civil is essential in the fight against corruption. Unfortunately, many countries in the region have made it very difficult for civil society to operate and hold governments accountable.
For the survey, Transparency International has partnered with the Pan-African, non-partisan research network Afrobarometer.
Ethiopia is not included in the survey.