23 February, 2018
African nations appear at the bottom of Transparency International's latest Corruption Perceptions Index.
Transparency gave the East African nation of Somalia its lowest rating on the list for the 12th time in 12 years.
Transparency is a non-governmental anti-corruption organization. It rated a total of 180 countries on how corrupt their governments and public services appear to be. The ratings are based on findings by experts and public opinion studies.
The index uses a 100-point scale to show corruption levels. More than two-thirds of the countries received less than 50 points, with an average rating of 43.
African nations had an average rating of 32 points. No nation has ever earned a perfect rating of 100. New Zealand leads the 2017 index with 89 points. Somalia received nine.
Kate Muwoki is Transparency International's expert on Southern Africa. She says most African governments are failing to deal with corruption. However, she says there are some leaders who have invested in systemic action to change behavior.
Muwoki spoke to VOA from Berlin, where Transparency International has its headquarters. She praised a number of African countries where corruption does not appear to be a major problem. They include Botswana, Seychelles, Cabo Verde, Rwanda and Namibia. All five received a rating of over 50 in the latest index.
She also noted that South Sudan is near Somalia at the bottom of the list. And Transparency identified rising corruption levels in Malawi, Madagascar, Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau.
Yet Muwoki suggested that things may change because the African Union and several African leaders have made clean governance a top goal.
The past year will be remembered as a time when several African leaders accused of questionable activities left office.
No fewer than four heads of state suspected of financial crimes resigned over the past 12 months. They are Gambia's Yahya Jammeh, Angola's Jose Eduardo dos Santos, Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, and Jacob Zuma of South Africa.
A high-level corruption case also affected the government of Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. He resigned this month following anti-government protests.
Yet the corruption-accused president of the Democratic Republic of Congo has repeatedly postponed elections. And the leaders of Uganda, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Congo, and Cameroon have all remained in power while being suspected of wrongdoing.
Corruption investigations continue into current and former officials across the continent.
Signs of change
The new president of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, has made fighting corruption a major goal of his administration. This week, he called for an investigation of the behavior of top government officials, starting with himself.
"Now, if there ever has been anything that many South Africans would like to have line of sight of, (it) is the lifestyle audit of their public representatives. Now that is something that I believe we have to do, and this will be done starting with the executive of the country, yes, we will go in that way..."
In Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari announced that all national property recovered in an anti-corruption campaign would be sold. He said the money from the sale will go the country's treasury. Buhari is the chairman of the AU anti-corruption effort.
Transparency International's Kate Muwoki says her group has noted and welcomed these developments. But she is urging people to keep up the pressure by shining light on suspected corruption.
I'm Caty Weaver.
Anita Powell reported this story for VOANews. George Grow adapted her report for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.
Words in This Story
perception – n. the way you think about or understand something
index – n. a list or record of something
scale – n. a group of numbers that is used to show the size, strength, or quality of something — usually singular
audit – v. an official examination of one's behavior or activities
executive – n. a person who directs or supervises something; a directing or controlling office
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