We are seen as corrupt and getting worse

We are seen as corrupt and getting worse

Corruption is a scourge that afflicts all countries. Sixty nine percent of 176 countries on the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2016 scored below 50 on a scale from 0 (perceived to be highly corrupt) to 100 (perceived to be very clean).

Countries are ranked based on how corrupt their public sector is perceived.
The index is computed using corruption related data collected by a variety of reputable institutions. It also incorporates the views of observers from around the world.
The CPI is published by Transparency International.

This is an international non-governmental organisation based in Germany.
That 69 percent of 176 countries scored below 50 is incredible. It demonstrates the extent to which public sector corruption is systemic and endemic.

Unfortunately, it is the poor who are most affected. Corruption deprives them their most basic needs whiles those who pillage public coffers, live in comfort at their expense.
This is untenable as it exacerbates the global divide between the rich and poor.

It also means the living conditions of especially the poor are not improved fast enough, the rule of law and the authority and credibility of government institutions are undermined.
Corruption is indefensible and there is no justification for its prevalence.
No wonder all politicians always promise to fight and eradicate it when they get in power.
But more often than not, they seldom walk the talk when they get there.

Some governments however do a better job than others to rid society of this crime.
According to the CPI 2016, Denmark and New Zealand are the best performers with scores of (90). They are closely followed by Finland (89) and Sweden (88).
The worst performer on the index is Somalia (10). This is for the tenth year running.
South Sudan is second to bottom with a score of (11). It is followed by North Korea (12) and Syria (13).

Botswana (60), is perceived to be the most clean country in Sub Saharan Africa.
It is ranked 35. It is followed by Cape Verde (59) ranked 38. South Africa (45) is ranked 64. This is their highest score since 2012.

The Transparency International survey found that countries at the bottom of the index are characterised by widespread impunity for corruption, poor governance and weak institutions.

For example, institutions such as the police and judiciary function badly and are not trusted.
It also found that even where anti-corruption laws do exist, in practice they are often not complied with or they are ignored.

At the other end of the spectrum, the higher-ranked countries tend to have higher degrees of press freedom, access to information about public expenditure, stronger standards of integrity for public officials, and independent judicial systems.
So where does Lesotho fit in this scheme of things?

The Mountain Kingdom is ranked 83 with a score of (39). This is a 5 point drop from 2015 (44) and a 10 point drop from both 2014 (49) and 2013 (49). In 2012, the score was (45).
The 2016 score is our lowest in the last five years. This means as far as perceptions go, last year we were seen as more corrupt than at any other year in the last 5 years.

It is immaterial whether or not we believe the veracity of the scores and the rankings.
The fact is, corruption and the mere perception of its prevalence is inimical to a climate conducive for private sector led growth.

Efforts to attract foreign direct investments and to mobilise private domestic investments required to drive inclusive economic growth will be adversely affected.
No accountable government enjoys having to explain to its citizens a bad ranking or worse still to explain scores which year on year show a downward trend instead of a steady improvement.

A downward trend signals a government that is either complicit in robbing the poor or one that is hopelessly incompetent to eradicate this scourge. It is therefore no surprise that the CPI has a lot of critics and haters.

But because the CPI is an important indicator of how a country is perceived when compared to other nations of the world, we need to engage with it and not dismiss it lightly.
The CPI 2016 is telling us that more action and less talk is urgently required to eliminate corruption at all levels of society and government.
A score of 39 is pathetic. It’s nothing to be proud of.

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