By GAAKI KIGAMBO
Bribery continues to stalk East Africa’s public services with Uganda rated as the most bribery prone country in the region.
According to the 2012 East African Bribery Index launched in Kampala on Thursday, with the slight exception of Burundi, the police force is the most bribery prone institution across East Africa.
The survey, carried out by Transparency International, ranked Rwanda as the least bribery prone country in the region.
Closely following the police is the judiciary, which ranked as the most corrupt in Burundi, followed by civil registration, education, medical services and water utilities.
Uganda has dislodged Burundi as the most bribery prone. The Observer reported Patrick Kayemba of Transparency International Uganda Chapter saying that the trend is of great concern.
“We are worse off than we were one year ago in spite of having the best anti-corruption institutions in the region. This trend is very, very worrying. We need to ask ourselves, what is happening?”
Although the survey did not state the reasons why the police and the judiciary are the most corrupt, it hypothesises “that the police face some unique predispositions to bribery. Such may include the almost absolute monopoly for legitimate state violence, and the powers to conduct arrests.”
The report adds that, “The itinerant nature of their operations implies that a citizen does not need to seek out their services to interact with the police. The slow and unpredictable nature of judicial processes is also likely to compel citizens to bribe the police to avoid lengthy court process.”
The survey focused on public service sectors instead of isolating individual institutions as has previously been the case.
Mwangi Kibathi, a research officer with Transparency International said, “This Index is essentially about reform, and we discovered from the past that sometimes it can be tricky when you want to reform individual institutions because the problem might run through the whole sector.”
There are no clear indications of major changes in the magnitude or patterns of bribery, or even the reasons why people bribe, from last year’s findings.
Mwangi attributes this stagnancy either to disinterest on the part of governments in tackling corruption aggressively, or using strategies that don’t work.
“The sad news is that since the people driving the corruption network are the political elite, it is challenging. The consolation is that the little the governments have done on the anti-corruption front has not been a reflection of the governments’ benevolence; it is a reflection of popular demand for change,” Mwangi noted.
This year’s index warns that, “The high ranking of the Judiciary and the police in the bribery index across the region should motivate necessary governance reforms if the momentum of FDI is to be sustained.”
According to the World Investment Report 2012, East Africa, which historically hasn’t been a top destination for FDI inflows, managed to reverse “the downward trend of 2009–2010 to reach $3.96 billion, a level just five per cent below the peak of 2008.”
Although investment is set to increase significantly with the discovery of commercially viable oil and gas deposits in the region, the progress is threatened by corruption.
According to Mwangi, the Index has had some degree of success in Kenya where it has been conducted for the longest time — 12 years compared with four in Uganda and Tanzania, and three times in Rwanda and Burundi.
Source: The East African