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SA Topples Nigeria To Become Most Corrupt African Country

For The Latest African Edition Of The Global Corruption Barometer, We Partnered With The Afrobarometer, Which Spoke To 43,143 Respondents Across 28 Countries In Sub-Saharan Africa Between March 2014 And September 2015 To Ask Them About Their Experiences And Perceptions Of Corruption In Their Country

South Africa
South Africa

In many African countries you can pay off police officers to ignore any crime, however horrific and devastating – it’s just a matter of price. In Zimbabwe a nine-year old girl was raped on her way to school by a man who infected her with HIV. The police initially arrested her attacker, but then released him in secret. The reason: he paid a bribe. At Transparency International we hear stories like this every day.

That is why we publish research on what people say are the biggest sources of corruption in their lives, so that we can raise awareness of the scale of graft and to drive anti-corruption work to stop it. For the latest African edition of the Global Corruption Barometer, we partnered with the Afrobarometer, which spoke to 43,143 respondents across 28 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa between March 2014 and September 2015 to ask them about their experiences and perceptions of corruption in their country.

1 Shockingly, we estimate that nearly 75 million people 2 have paid a bribe in the past year – some of these to escape punishment by the police or courts, but many also forced to pay to get access to the basic services that they desperately need. A majority of Africans3 perceive corruption to be on the rise and think that their government is failing in its efforts to fight corruption; and many also feel disempowered as regards to taking action against corruption.

In Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Liberia and Ghanian citizens are the most negative about the scale of corruption in their country. However, the results also highlight that there are a small number of countries in the region that are seen as doing quite well in addressing the scourge 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.

The main finding of this report is that there is a clear disparity between a few strong performing countries in regard to anti-corruption and the many weak performers on anti-corruption across the continent.

There is no government which is rated positively on its anti-corruption efforts by a clear majority of its citizens

This finding contains both a hopeful message, that addressing corruption is indeed possible, as well as a disappointing message, as most African countries have failed to make headway in stemming the tide of corruption. 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, this report calls on governments to act against the corruption which exists in their country.

1 The Afrobarometer conducted the survey in 36 countries in total across the Africa region. Only the results from the following Sub-Saharan African countries are included in this report: Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritius, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Results from North African countries will be included in a separate Middle East and North Africa report and results from three Sub-Saharan African countries – Mozambique, Gabon and São Tomé and Príncipe – had not been finalised when this report was being published but will be included in subsequent global releases of the results. The survey was carried out face to face. In each country the survey was sampled and weighted to be nationally representative of the adult population aged 18+. A full description of the methodology is contained in the annex.

2 This estimate is made based on the approximate total number of adults aged 18+ living in each of the surveyed countries according to the most recent census or other available population data. See methodology for full details. 3 For the sake of readability, we use the terms “Africans” or “Africa” or “continent” even though the report includes only Sub-Saharan countries.


The main findings of this report are as follows:

1. CORRUPTION SEEN TO BE ON THE RISE The majority of Africans (58%) 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.

2. MOST GOVERNMENTS ARE FAILING TO MEET CITIZENS’ EXPECTATIONS IN REGARD TO FIGHTING CORRUPTION There is no government which is rated positively on its anti-corruption efforts by a clear majority of its citizens. On the contrary, 18 out of 28 governments are seen as fully failing to address corruption by a large majority.


3. POLICE AND PRIVATE SECTOR PERCEIVED AS MOST CORRUPT The survey asked how much corruption there was in 10 key institutions and groups in society. Across the region, the police and business executives are seen to have the highest levels of corruption. While the police have regularly been rated as highly corrupt, the strongly negative assessment of business executives is new compared to previous Transparency International Global Corruption Barometer (GCB) survey rounds.ii

4. BRIBERY AFFECTS MORE THAN ONE-IN-FIVE AFRICANSiii, AND DISPROPORTIONALLY AFFECTS THE POOR IN URBAN AREAS 22 per cent of people that have come into contact with a public service in the past 12 months in Sub-Saharan Africa have paid a bribe, but the situation is worst in Liberia where nearly seven-in-ten paid a bribe. Across the continent, poor people are twice as likely as rich people to have paid a bribe, and in urban areas they are even more likely to pay bribes. iv

5. POLICE AND THE COURTS HAVE THE HIGHEST RATE OF BRIBERY Out of six key public services, people who come into contact with the police and the courts are the most likely to have paid a bribe. This is consistent with previous Transparency International surveys and highlights the lack of progress made in addressing bribery in these two institutions, which are crucial for citizen security and the rule of law.

6. MANY PEOPLE FEEL UNABLE TO CONTRIBUTE TO HELPING FIGHT CORRUPTION People in the region are divided as to whether ordinary people can make a difference in the fight against corruption – just over half of people think that they can (53 per cent), while 38 per cent think they cannot. Reporting incidences when they occur, or saying no when asked to pay a bribe, are seen as the most effective things people can do. However, only roughly one-in-ten people who paid a bribe actually reported it.

7. DESPITE THIS, TURNING BACK CORRUPTION IS POSSIBLE There are a few countries in which citizens see low levels of corruption in their public institutions and see corruption as on the wane in their own country. The views of citizens in Botswana, Lesotho, Senegal and Burkina Faso are particularly favourable.



CORRUPTION SEEN TO BE ON THE RISE • Governments must finally deliver on their anti-corruption commitments made globally (the UN Convention against Corruption) and regionally (the African Union Convention on Combating Corruption). • UN Convention signatory countries must actively support and use the results of the next Convention review cycle, which will look at related policies to prevent corruption and support asset recovery. • The African Union and its members must provide the political will and financing needed to implement the review mechanism established for its anti-corruption convention.

MOST GOVERNMENTS ARE FAILING TO MEET CITIZENS’ EXPECTATIONS IN REGARD TO FIGHTING CORRUPTION • Governments must end impunity in their countries – whether in government, companies or organisations – by effectively investigating and prosecuting cases and eliminating the abuse of political immunity. • Governments must strengthen and enforce legislation on politically-exposed persons and anti-money laundering to curb the high volume of illicit flows from the continent. • Governments must end the secrecy around who owns and controls companies and other arrangements which enable collusion, self-dealing or deception in government processes, such as procurement.


Governments must show a sustained and deep commitment to acting on police corruption at all levels by promoting reforms that combine punitive measures with structural changes over the short- and medium-term.v • Companies need to transparently report their operations, activities and revenues on a country-by-country basis to build public trust and dispel perceptions of corruption.


• Governments must effectively include anti-corruption measures and metrics as part of implementing and tracking progress on their Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) strategies.

POLICE AND THE COURTS HAVE THE HIGHEST RATE OF BRIBERY • Governments must invest in measures to strengthen access to justice and the rule of law in their countries, such as ensuring an objective and transparent process for appointing judges, protections for judicial salaries and working conditions, and clear criteria for case assignment.

MANY PEOPLE FEEL UNABLE TO CONTRIBUTE TO HELPING FIGHT CORRUPTION • Governments must create safe and effective conditions for the involvement of civil society in anti-corruption efforts, including their de jure and de facto operational and physical freedom. • Governments must establish right to information and whistle-blower protection legislation to facilitate the role of civil society in making public institutions more transparent, accountable and corruption-free.

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