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New surveys show Africa not making enough progress on corruption

By Benjamin Falanga
Posted on Friday, 12 July 2019 23:45

Anti-corruption protesters holding a banner march during a protest in Nairobi, Kenya, April 30 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Corruption remains a stubborn phenomenon on the continent – that is according to the tenth edition of the Global Corruption Barometer, commissioned by Transparency International in association with Afrobarometer.

More than half of the 47,000 citizens surveyed in 35 African countries believe that corruption is worsening in their countries.

In January 2018, the executive secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Vera Songwe, revealed that corruption linked to various fraudulent activities in Africa results in the loss of $148bn annually, or approximately 25% of Africa’s average GDP.

Four out of every five citizens of the Democratic Republic of Congo say that all or most parliamentarians are corrupt. In contrast, in Cabo Verde Verde and Gambia, only 15% and 16% of respondents, respectively, believe that all or most parliamentarians are involved in corruption.

It takes two to tango

Other groups, such as the UK-based Tax Justice Network, point the finger at the network of secrecy jurisdictions linked to the City of London and Wall Street, like the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands.

Along with an army of accountants and lawyers, these tax havens create a conduit for stolen money to leave Africa – with multinational corporate tax avoidance believed to be a far greater problem than local criminality in the impoverishment of African states.

Combined, these problems are shackling the continent, said Patricia Moreira, managing director of Transparency International : “Corruption is hindering Africa’s economic, political and social development. It is a major barrier to economic growth, good governance and basic freedoms, like freedom of speech or citizens’ right to hold governments to account.”

And with two out of every three Africans saying their governments are not tackling corruption properly, many are forced to pay bribes just to receive public goods. One in four people who have had access to public services, such as health care and education, paid a bribe in the previous year, with the poorest often paying twice.

State of insecurity

The police are considered the most corrupt institution, with 47% of people saying that most or all police officers are corrupt. Two-thirds of respondents cited fear of reprisals for reporting members of the police to the authorities.

To address this critical issue, Transparency International urges governments to put anti-corruption commitments into practice while creating mechanisms to collect citizens’ complaints and strengthen whistleblower protections so that citizens can report cases of corruption without fear of reprisals.

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