Corruption: A global problem or an African cancer?

06Dec 2017
The Guardian
Corruption: A global problem or an African cancer?

IS African corruption unique, or is it just like corruption in the many other parts of the world? Citizens of African countries tend to argue that they have an unchallengeable lead in the whole business of corruption - their own problem exceeds that of all other countries.

International corporate types, however, tend to see corruption in Africa as being no different to that which they face or participate in across a range of countries. In NGO circles corruption in Africa tends to be regarded as a product of western influence and the siren voices of capitalism.

Laurence Cockcroft, the author of Global Corruption: Money, Power and Ethics in the Modern World, explored the nature of corruption across the world, the forces which drive it forward, and the roadblocks to combating it. Many of the issues discussed are common to a range of countries.

Tanzania’s anti-corruption war has taken centre stage in the debate on integrity and ethics ahead of the 2017 International Human Rights Day, with calls for more to be done towards reducing the problem in the country.

Participants in the recent debate on ethics, corruption and good governance in Dodoma have noted that from the look of things, the war spearheaded by President John Magufuli appears to be single-handed so far.

Some point to the revelations of further rot at the port of Dar es Salaam by both the president and Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa, on separate visits, as a clear indication that public leaders especially at lower levels have not changed in their stance towards graft.

The general consensus seemed to be that while the fifth phase government as an entity has shown determination and commitment to practically fight corruption, individual elements within that government look to be out to derail the collective effort.

The elections held across Africa in 2016 provide a good reflection of corruption trends in the region. In countries like Ghana, which is the second worst decline in the 2016 Corruption Perceptions Index in the region, the dissatisfaction of citizens with the government's corruption record was reflected in their voting at the polls. South Africa, which continues to stagnate this year, has witnessed the same. Joseph Kabila's Democratic Republic of Congo and Yahya Jammeh's Gambia, which both declined, demonstrate how electoral democracy is tremendously challenged in African countries because of corruption.

 In the same vein, Tanzania has slipped 24 places in the global corruption ranking over the last one year, reflecting the country's faltering effort in the campaign against the vice.

The country dropped from position 102 in 2008, to 126 in the 2009 Global Corruption Perception Index (CPI), whose results were released yesterday by the Berlin- based anti-graft agency, Transparency International (TI).

About 90 per cent of Tanzanians think corruption has declined in the past two years with President John Magufuli at the helm, compared with five years ago.

These findings were released by Twaweza in a research brief titled The Untouchables? Tanzanians' Views and Experiences of Corruption. They were based on data collected from 1,705 respondents from the mainland between July and August.

The respondents also said they are less likely to be asked for bribes in 2017, compared with 2014.

About 34 per cent of the respondents said they were asked for a bribe by an employer in 2014, while 36 per cent reported the same in 2017.

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