By Mthulisi Mathuthu
Zimbabwe is the third most corrupt African country, after joint leaders Nigeria and Egypt, a key research project has found.
According to an Afrobarometer report released four weeks ago in Senegal, corruption in Zimbabwe stands at 81 percent while both Nigeria and Egypt are at 82 percent. In Zimbabwe corruption increased by 43 percent between 2002 and 2012, the report said.
Afrobarometer is a research project which measures public attitudes on socio-economic and political issues in sub-Saharan Africa. The project surveyed more than 51,000 people between October 2011 and June 2013. Project manager Anyway Chigwede, said interviewees were adults aged 18 years and above with a gender balance of 50-50.
Fifty six percent of the people interviewed said their governments have done ‘fairly’ or ‘very bad’ in fighting graft while only 35 percent said their governments had done ‘fairly’ or ‘very well.’
So prevalent is corruption in Africa that 1 in 5 people said they have paid one or more times to a government official in the past year, just to get an official document, the report said. It added that in 34 countries the public perceive the police and government tax officials to be the most corrupt.
A year ago the Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa found that graft among the Zimbabwean traffic police was worsening, with some officials having accumulated wealth which they could not ‘justify against their monthly salaries.’
Transparency International Zimbabwe Chairman, Loughty Dube, said the recent revelations were not surprising. Dube said his organization was aware that corruption is ‘rampant in virtually every government department.’
He said graft was so rife because of a lack of ‘political will’ to curb it. Dube said in most of their studies his organization has found that corruption has become ‘a way of life’ in Zimbabwe.
According to Afrobarometer graft is bad for democracy because people who ‘perceive higher levels of corruption within state institutions and those who have engaged in petty corruption’ are more likely not to value democracy. On the economic front corruption is known to discourage investment as it increases the cost of business and uncertainty over profits.
According to this week’s Financial Gazette corruption is more costly to the poor as low-income households spend as much as two to three percent of their income on bribes. The paper added that the African Union has estimated that in the 1990s corruption cost African economies about $148 billion per annum. SW Radio Africa