Uganda stagnates in global corruption ranking - report

Left to right: Former employees of the Ministry of Public Service, Christopher Obey, Jimmy Lwamafa and Stephen Kiwanuka Kunsa on arrival at the Anti-corruption Court in Kololo ahead of hearing. PHOTO BY MICHAEL KAKUMIRIZI

Kampala- Uganda has once again failed to make any positive progress in the fight against corruption, the 2018 Transparency International Corruption Index report shows.

Though the country moved three places down from last year’s 151 position to 149th position out of 180 countries, it maintained the poor score of 26 per cent.

Uganda maintained its position as the third most corrupt country in East Africa after South Sudan and Burundi.
In East Africa, Rwanda once again emerged the least corrupt country, scoring 56 per cent, followed by Tanzania at 36 per cent, and Kenya at 27 per cent.

Uganda came third, followed by Burundi at 17 per cent and South Sudan at 13 per cent.

While releasing the report in Kampala yesterday, Mr Peter Wandera, the Executive Director of Transparency International said Uganda’s score and some East African countries in the past few years has been worrying.

He said while Uganda has improved by few steps in the ranking, the fact that the scores have remained stagnant is reason enough to worry.

Mr Wandera also observed that Sub-Saharan Africa has continued to lag behind in performance and called on the need to check the trend.

“Our leaders, particularly from Uganda need to do a lot of benchmarking in Rwanda. Rwanda has fewer anti-corruption institutions and perhaps fewer legislations, but they have the political will to fight corruption, that’s why they are doing better than us,” he said.

Mr John Mary Odoi, the chairperson of the Transparency International, said the performance of most African countries is disappointing.
Out of the 49 countries assessed, only eight scored above 50 per cent mark, which he said is something to ponder about.

“In this perception index, if you score below 50, you have failed and most of the Sub-Saharan African countries lie below the pass mark,” he said.

Mr Peter Kiwumulo Kabala, the vice chairperson of the organisation, said while corruption affects everyone, the most hit groups are the poorest in the society. He said government cannot achieve its dream of middle income society if corruption continues to eat into the core of the service delivery.

“We need to move together to ensure that everyone is included in this fight, especially our poor people who are the most affected. There is also clear correlation between democracy and corruption so we need to see how we can deepen democracy in this part of the world,” Mr Kiwumulo said.

Government is yet to comment on the latest report that continues to paint the country as one of the most corrupt.

The Inspector General of Government, Irene Mulyagonza said: “No comment because I have not yet read the report.”

Other Sub-Saharan countries
The report also paints a grim picture of other African countries, scoring an average of 32 per cent.

“This year’s Corruption Perception Index presents a largely gloomy picture for Africa. Only eight of 49 countries score more than 43 out of 100 on the index. Despite commitments from African leaders in declaring 2018 as the African Year of Anti-corruption, this has yet to translate into concrete progress,’ the report says.

Seychelles was the best country on the continent, scoring 66 out of 100 to put it at the top of the region. Seychelles is followed by Botswana and Cabo Verde with scores of 61 and 57, respectively.

At the very bottom of the index for the seventh year in a row, Somalia scores 10 points, followed by South Sudan (13) to round up the lower scores in the region.

With an average score of just 32, Sub-Saharan Africa is the lowest scoring region on the index, followed closely by Eastern Europe and Central Asia, with an average score of 35.

Corruption and a crisis of democracy
“Sub-Saharan Africa remains a region of stark political and socio-economic contrasts and many longstanding challenges while a large number of countries have adopted democratic principles of governance, several are still governed by authoritarian and semi-authoritarian leaders. Autocratic regimes, civil strife, weak institutions and unresponsive political systems continue to undermine anti-corruption efforts,” the report notes
According to the report, countries such as Seychelles and Botswana which score higher on the CPI than other countries in the region have relatively well-functioning democratic and governance systems, which help contribute to their scores.

The report took note of two countries - Cote de voire and Senegal that for the second year in a row have taken positive strides in fighting corruption. In the last six years, Cote de voir moved from 27 points in 2013 to 35 points in 2018, while Senegal moved from 36 points in 2012 to 45 points in 2018.

With a score of 37, Gambia improved seven points since last year, while Seychelles improved six points, with a score of 66. Eritrea also gained four points, scoring 24 in 2018. In Gambia and Eritrea, political commitment combined with laws, institutions and implementation help with controlling corruption.

Countries such as Burundi, Congo, Mozambique, Liberia and Ghana have all registered decline in performances over the last seven years.
The report says many low performing countries have several commonalties, including few political rights, limited press freedoms and a weak rule of law.

The Index draws upon 13 data sources which capture the assessment of experts and business executives on a number of corrupt behaviours in the public sector including bribery, diversion of public funds, use of public office for private gain, nepotism in the civil service and state capture.

Some of the sources also look at the mechanisms available to prevent corruption in a country, such as; the government’s ability to enforce integrity mechanisms, the effective prosecution of corrupt officials, red tape and excessive bureaucratic burden, the existence of adequate laws on financial disclosure, conflict of interest prevention and access to information and legal protection for whistleblowers, journalists and investigators.