Sierra Leone Telegraph: 11 July 2019:
Corruption is hindering Africa’s economic, political and social development. It is a major barrier to economic growth, good governance and basic freedoms, such as freedom of speech or citizens’ right to hold governments to account, according to the latest Global Corruption Barometer – Africa 2019 report.
More than this, corruption affects the wellbeing of individuals, families and communities. While it varies extensively across countries and public institutions, corruption harms hundreds of millions of citizens by undermining their chances of a stable, prosperous future, the reports warns.
But whilst more than half of citizens in Africa think corruption is getting worse in their country and that their government is doing a bad job at tackling corruption, in Sierra Leone there is welcome news. Only 43% said corruption increased in the past year – 2017/2018, compared to 70% in 2014.
52% of public service users in Sierra Leone said they paid a bribe in 2017/2018; 26% said the government is doing a bad job of tackling corruption; and 39% thought that ordinary citizens can make a difference in the fight against corruption.
But, between 2014 and 2017/2018, overall bribery rate rose from 41% to 52% in Sierra Leone; bribery in public schools grew from 20% to 33%; bribery in public clinics and health centres rose from 25% to 50%; bribery in seeking IDs fell from 37% to 18%; bribery in accessing utilities fell from 40% to 33%; police bribery fell from 64% to 39%.
When asked whether corruption level changed in the previous 12 months -2017/2018, 43% said it increased, compared to 70% in 2014.
There are also improvements in the percentage of people who think that most or everyone working in key public institutions in Sierra Leone are corrupt.
In 2017/2018, 24% of people said that the President’s and Prime Minister’s offices are corrupt, compared to 48% in 2014.
The perception levels of citizens in Sierra Leone about their Members of Parliament being corrupt, went down in 2017/2018 to 25%, from 50% in 2014.
In 2017/2018, 33% of people said that Government officials are corrupt, compared to 55% in 2014, with the percentage for Local government officials falling from 49% to 22%.
But the number of people who believe that Sierra Leone Police is corrupt still remain stubbornly high. In 2014, 59% said that the police are corrupt, falling slightly to 56% in 2017/2018.
Similar patterns of improvement in perceived corruption could be seen in other public institutions, including the judiciary, where in 2014, 47% of Sierra Leoneans questioned said that Judges and Magistrates are corrupt, falling to 33% in 2017/2018.
Religious institutions are also ripping the benefit of government’s campaign to wipe out corruption in Sierra Leone. In 2017/2018, only 10% of people said that religious leaders are corrupt, compared to 25% in 2014.
Contrary to the popular belief that corruption is rife among Sierra Leone’s NGO’s, this latest report shows that only 18% supported this view in 2017/2018. There were no figures for 2014.
Sierra Leone’s private sector, though struggling amid difficult economic conditions, has seen a big improvement in its corruption credentials, with 39% of people perceiving Business Executives as corrupt in 2017/2018, compared to 53% in 2014.
Traditional leaders to have enjoyed the overall improvement in perceived corruption in Sierra Leone by citizens, with 17% of people saying that traditional leaders are corrupt, compared to 35% in 2014.
Can ordinary people make a difference in the fight against corruption in Sierra Leone?
Only 39% of Sierra Leoneans certainly think so. This is not an encouraging statistic, which has only improved slightly from 32% in 2014.
“The country’s Anti-Corruption Commission, led by Francis Ben Kaifala (Photo) is doing a great job, but must work much harder in getting citizens to buy into the government’s anti-corruption agenda, and to feel they have a key role to play in winning the fight against corruption,” says Abdul Rashid Thomas, editor of the Sierra Leone Telegraph.
Is the government doing a good or bad job of fighting corruption?
According to the report, many governments in Africa are failing to do enough, with only one in three citizens on the continent (34 per cent) saying their government is doing a good job at fighting corruption, while 59 per cent rate their government’s performance as bad.
But in Sierra Leone, 66% of people said that the government is doing well in tackling corruption in 2017/2018, compared to 19% who in 2014 said that the Koroma led APC government did well.
The survey was conducted In Sierra Leone by ITASCAP Limited on the 6th to 28th of July 2018, involving a sample of 1,200 people.
The significance of this survey period is crucial in attributing praise for the improvements in the levels of corruption perceived by citizens in 2018. (Photo above: President Bio receiving cheque in December 2018 from the head of the Anti-Corruption Commission, as recovered stolen public funds).
Elections were held in Sierra Leone in March 2018, with President Bio’s government not fully in place until May 2018.
This therefore makes it difficult to attribute all of the successes in tackling corruption in the country mentioned in this Global Corruption Barometer – Africa 2019 report, solely to the efforts of president Julius Maada Bio and his government.
But what is certain is that the most concerted effort seen in the fight against corruption in Sierra Leone in 2018, came on the backs of the electoral success of the SLPP, as most efforts of the Koroma led government in that election year was focussed on campaigning, with several allegations of public funds being used by those in power to fight those elections.
According to the authors of the report: “This 10th edition of the Global Corruption Barometer – Africa shows that the range of corruption challenges that African citizens face is complex and multifaceted, requiring fundamental and systemic changes.
“It also highlights that while most people surveyed felt corruption had increased in their country, a majority felt that they, as citizens, could make a difference in the fight against corruption. Recent events in Gambia show how citizens can play a fundamental role in making these changes. Gambians called for greater integrity in government, forcing political leaders to respond and strengthen anti-corruption frameworks.
“The autocratic regime of President Jammeh was ousted, and there are encouraging signs that the opacity, repression and violation of basic rights that marked Jammeh’s time in office are being slowly reversed. Non-African actors also play a significant role in fuelling corruption in Africa and aiding the diversion of critical resources away from essential public services.
“Foreign businesses continue to bribe public officials throughout the continent to get an unfair advantage during bidding processes and secure deals that are overpriced or do not yield real benefits. When money that should support critical services, such as health care and education, flows out of countries due to corruption, ordinary citizens suffer most.”
According to the authors of the report: “Corruption in Africa has a direct impact on the lives of citizens. It undermines the integrity and effectiveness of African institutions and deprives governments of sorely needed tax revenues. While initiatives to tackle corruption in specific institutions, such as the police or parliament, are welcome, ultimately tackling corruption in Africa requires a holistic, systemic approach, including measures taken outside of Africa.
“Africa Governments should put anticorruption commitments into practice and should do the following:
- Ratify, implement and report on the African Union Convention to Prevent and Combat Corruption (AUCPCC).
- Investigate, prosecute and sanction all reported cases of corruption in both the public and the private sectors, with no exception. Develop minimum standards and guidelines for ethical procurement and build strong procurement practice throughout the continent with training, monitoring and research.
- Adopt open contracting practices, which make data and documentation clearer and easier to analyse and ensure transparency in hiring procedures.
- Create mechanisms to collect citizens’ complaints and strengthen whistleblower protection to ensure that citizens can report instances of corruption without fear of reprisal.
- Enable media and civil society to hold governments accountable.
- Support transparency in political party funding.
- Allow cross-border cooperation to combat corruption. While African citizens suffer the consequences of corruption, corrupt individuals are still able to hide behind anonymous companies and stash their ill-gotten funds abroad, purchasing luxury properties, cars and other goods with public money and securing a safe haven for themselves, their families and their stolen assets.
- National authorities should establish public registers that name the owners of shell companies, allowing bidders for public contracts to be vetted and preventing those who keep their identities secret from benefitting from criminal activities and keeping their dirty money untraced.
- Governments in the region should put in place and enforce laws that address stolen assets – the proceeds of corruption, crime and money laundering.”
About the survey
The Global Corruption Barometer (GCB) – Africa, published by Transparency International in partnership with Afrobarometer, presents the largest, most detailed set of public opinion data on citizens’ views on corruption and direct experiences of bribery in Africa. Based on fieldwork conducted in 34 countries between 2016 and 2018 by Afrobarometer, as well as a survey conducted by Omega Research, the GCB incorporates the views of more than 47,000 citizens in 35 countries across Africa.
READ THE FULL REPORT HERE: