Zimbabwe is the most corrupt country in southern Africa, with neighbouring Botswana ranking as Africa's least corrupt country, the latest graft perception survey by Transparency International has revealed. South Africa's score remains unchanged.
The impoverished country was ranked 150 out of 168 countries included in the 2015 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) that was unveiled by the global corruption watchdog on Wednesday.
However, the ranking was an improvement from the previous year where Zimbabwe was placed 156.
[South Africa is] ranking perilously close to those countries suffering from endemic corruption
President Robert Mugabe has been accused of paying lip service to the fight against graft despite fears that corruption has become very pronounced in institutions such as the police and the judiciary.
Mugabe has in the past admitted that even his Cabinet ministers are corrupt but rarely takes action against influential people implicated in serious graft cases.
The creation of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) in 2011 was welcomed by citizens who hoped the watchdog would curb graft, especially in the public offices but the organisation has been starved of funding by the government.
The country's auditor-general has published countless reports on abuse of public sector funds, but they have largely been ignored. In 2015, 22 ministries were found to have abused funds as well as having flouted procurement procedures and governance rules but no corrective action was taken.
Meanwhile, South Africa's 2015 score of 44 remained unchanged but the country's ranking improved from last year's 67 to 61, Transparency International said.
The corruption watchdog said the ranking could be an indication that perceptions about the extent of graft in South Africa could be changing. But David Lewis, executive director of Corruption Watch, an affiliate of Transparency International said South Africa has "to turn the situation."
"The good news is that for the second year in succession, our score, as measured by the CPI, has remained the same and our ranking has improved slightly [...] the bad news is that we are still ranked amongst those countries perceived to have a serious corruption problem, with our ranking perilously close to those countries suffering from endemic corruption," Lewis said.
Zimbabwe's neighbour, Botswana remains the least corrupt country in Africa. The southern African country is also ranked highly for its democratic credentials.
According to the Economist Intelligence Unit's 2015 Global Democracy Index Botswana was ranked 28th in the world as well as second in Africa after Mauritius. Botswana scored 63 out of 100 in the index.
The CPI is compiled from a composite of surveys conducted during the year by organisations such as the World Bank, the African Development Bank and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The individuals surveyed are largely public and private sector leaders and academics.