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Sunday, 29 November 2009

Tanzania: PCCB Takes Fire Over Graft Ranking

By Frank Kimboy

The Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) and Judiciary should shoulder the blame for Tanzania's sharp drop in the global corruption rankings, politicians and activists said yesterday.

They told The Citizen that the two key institutions were not doing enough to stamp out entrenched corruption.

Their reaction came after respected anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International (TI) released a report showing that Tanzania has dropped 24 places in this year's Global Corruption Perception Index (CPI).

According to the results released on Tuesday by the Berlin-based body, the country has slipped from the 102nd position in 2008 to the 126th spot this year.

The Leader of the Official Opposition in Parliament, Mr Hamad Rashid Mohammed, said the Judiciary did not act fast to clear pending corruption cases, while the PCCB was dragging its feet in investigating allegations of grand corruption.

Mr Hamad told The Citizen in a telephone interview that although Parliament had been at the forefront in the fight against graft, it was unfortunate that the Executive and Judiciary had not been aggressive enough in fighting the vice.

"There are many corruption scandals that parliamentarians have exposed and demanded tough action, but the Executive and Judiciary have so far done nothing in this regard," he said.

He added: " It must be understood that the Government's will and commitment to tame corruption is key to stamping out the malpractice if we are really intent on moving forward."

Mr Mohammed, who is a CUF parliamentarian, also questioned the sincerity of the ruling CCM in the campaign against corruption.

He was said attempts by the ruling party to rein in outspoken CCM parliamentarians raised "a lot of questions".

Mr Moses Kulaba, the executive secretary of Agenda 2000, a non-governmental organisation committed to promoting democracy and good governance, accused the Government of assuming the role of a spectator as Parliament and the media spearheaded the fight against corruption.

He said the PCCB was not efficient in investigating and corruption scandals and prosecuting the masterminds, and could therefore not escape blame for Tanzania's "poor" record in fighting graft.

Mr Kulaba said mega-corruption scandals such as the Richmond, EPA, Alex Stewart and radar scams were all revealed by either the media or parliamentarians.

He wondered how corruption scandals of such a magnitude could not be detected by the PCCB, and instead left to the media and MPs to unearth.

Mr Kulaba said many corruption suspects were being acquitted because of the PCCB's "shoddy investigations" and its failure to effectively prosecute those charged with corruption.

The chairman of the opposition NCCR-Mageuzi, Mr James Mbatia, said putting the PCCB under the Office of the President was a "grave mistake", adding that this made it impossible for the agency to operate independently.

"The law that established the PCCB is flawed. Putting the anti-corruption watchdog under the Office of the President gives the Government the leeway to interfere in its affairs when it feels its interests are threatened," he said.

Mr Mbatia said Tanzania would continue to lose credibility on the international stage if the Government would not address the shortcomings.

PCCB public relations officer Doreen Kapwani said she had not seen the TI report, but added that reports that Tanzania had fared better than other East African countries were "encouraging".

According to the TI findings, Tanzania posted its first worst performance in recent years in the annual ranking of the 180 countries surveyed worldwide.

However, with the exception of Rwanda, Tanzania did better in the region, ranking higher than Kenya (146) and Uganda (130) in the global index. Kenya improved by one position, while Uganda dropped four places.

Rwanda, which was ranked the same with Tanzania in 2008, is now considered the least corrupt country in the East Africa, coming in at an impressive 89th place.

The country led by reformist President Paul Kagame, who has won world accolades for wide-ranging steps to improve governance, went up by 14 positions to break into the top 100, with a CPI score of 3.7 points. Burundi, the worst performer in the region, was ranked 168th.

Tanzania's best ranking was 94, in 2007, when Parliament finally passed a law, establishing the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB). In 2006, the country was ranked 101.

With this year's decline, the average CPI score and confidence rating of the country's anti-corruption efforts dropped from 3.2 points in 2007 to 2.6 points this year, out of a maximum of 10 points, in what points to a setback in efforts to fight graft in high places.

Namibia: Country 'Highly Corrupt'

By Jo-MarÉ Duddy

NAMIBIA is still regarded as a highly corrupt country worldwide, the latest report of Transparency International (TI) shows.

Like last year and in 2007, Namibia again scored 4,5 points on TI's Corruption Perception Index (CPI) this year.

Any country getting less than five points is perceived as "highly corrupt" by the global watchdog for domestic and public sector graft.

The recent trend is a far cry from the period of 1998 to 2002, when Namibia was continuously ranked amongst the top 30 least corrupt countries in the world.

This year Namibia also has the dubious honour of being amongst the top six countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

However, only three of these countries achieved a score of five points and higher: Botswana (5,6), Mauritius (5,4) and Cape Verde (5,1).

The rest, starting with the Seychelles (4,8) and ending with Somalia (1,1), are all perceived as highly corrupt.

Although Namibia's 2009 score is an improvement on its all-time low of 4,1 points from 2004 to 2006, it is a drastic drop from its record-high of 5,7 points in 2002.

Top achievers in this year's CPI are New Zealand, with 9,4 points out of a possible ten, followed by Denmark (9,3), Singapore and Sweden (both with 9,2).

The bottom three places go to Somalia, Afghanistan (1,3) and Myanmar (1,4).

Releasing the 2009 CPI in Berlin yesterday, TI said as the world economy begins to register a tentative recovery and some nations continue to wrestle with ongoing conflict and insecurity, it was clear that no region of the world is immune to the perils of corruption.

"At a time when massive stimulus packages, fast-track disbursements of public funds and attempts to secure peace are being implemented around the world, it is essential to identify where corruption blocks good governance and accountability, in order to break its corrosive cycle," TI Chair Huguette Labelle said at the launch.

TI said the overall results in the 2009 index "are of great concern because corruption continues to lurk where opacity rules, where institutions still need strengthening and where governments have not implemented anti-corruption legal frameworks".

"Corrupt money must not find safe haven. It is time to put an end to excuses," said Labelle.

Bribery, cartels and other corrupt practices undermine competition and contribute to massive loss of resources for development in all countries, especially the poorest ones, the watchdog warned. According to a recent TI report, more than 283 private international cartels were exposed between 1990 and 2005, which cost consumers around the world an estimated US$300 billion in overcharges,

"Stemming corruption requires strong oversight by parliaments, a well-performing judiciary, independent and properly resourced audit and anti-corruption agencies, vigorous law enforcement, transparency in public budgets, revenue and aid flows, as well as space for independent media and a vibrant civil society," said Labelle.

Uganda: 'Corruption Worse in Country'

Tabu Butagira

Courts have trouble convicting corrupt bureaucrats because colleagues help destroy incriminating evidence in a "scratch my back, I will scratch yours" syndicate, a minister has said.

Ethics Minister James Buturo's remarks, likely to infuriate government officials, came hours after Transparency International said in a new report released yesterday that graft is getting worse here.

The 2009 Corruption Perception Index (CPI), a measure of citizens' opinion of public sector corruption, shows Uganda slipping from position 126 last year to 130 out of 180 countries surveyed worldwide.

"This is a powerful reminder to Ugandans that we have a common enemy - corruption...government, civil society organisations and citizens are not pulling their weight together to end the vice," Dr Buturo said.

Dishonest public servants, the minister said, are not caught partly because detectives investigating them scupper state efforts by falling for the allure of bribe-taking.

Anti-corruption activists welcomed the findings that place the neighbouring Rwanda, at ranking 89, as the least corrupt of the five East African countries fast-tracking both an economic union and political federation.

The progress of Rwanda, tied with Tanzania in position 102 last year, to present position 89 - while Tanzania backslid to number 126 - could offer a lesson to other EAC partner states on how to get it right on corruption fight.

The region's economic giant, Kenya, moved marginally from position 147 to 146 while Denmark, New Zealand and Sweden took the top slots.

Mr Raphael Baku, the Inspector General of Government, said the 2009 CPI "may or may not" be factual since the surveys capture only what "people think". "It could be that there is a lot of talking and writing about corruption in Uganda," he said, "When you beat the drum loud, everyone hears."

On a scale of 0-10, a lower digit reflecting higher corruption prevalence, TI reported that the vast majority of the 180 countries fell below the mid-mark.

The report speaks of entrenched wrongs: foreign investors offering bribes to fix business deals in developing countries and public employees falsifying accountability, undermining economic recovery from last year's financial meltdown.

The national coordinator of Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda, Mr Jasper Tumuhimbise, agreed with the report authors that those countries with fractured institutions such as Parliament and the Judiciary lose more public resources through official complicity.

Mr Tumuhimbise said: "We lost the anti-corruption fight when our leaders put in place institutions and laws without the accompanying political will."

Burundi is at number 168, a dozen places from the worst-rated country - Somalia.

Nigeria: Corruption Rating - FG Blames Private Sector

Daniel Idonor

Abuja — STILL recovering from the shock of Nigeria's downward spiral in the ranking of Transparency International, TI, the Federal Government yesterday blamed the low rating on the Organised Private Sector, OPS.

The government maintained that while the menace of corruption is fast fading out in the public sector, the virus is eating deep into the fabric of the OPS.

The blame apportioning notwithstanding, government has expressed discomfort over the retrogression.

Nigeria had dropped in the latest ranking of Transparency International, released Tuesday, from 121st position in 2008 to 130, this year.

Minister of Information, Dora Akunyili, while reacting in Abuja yesterday, said it is a sad development.

Akunyili stated that it is discomforting to list the nation among the world's most corrupt countries despite government's efforts to sanitise different sectors of the economy.

The Minister who noted that the Federal Government does not dispute the ranking however revealed that the government is ignorant of the perimeters used in the assessment.

According to her, the government is set to make amends in all areas that had led to the sudden slump.

Also, the government stated that contrary to opinion being expressed in some quarters that there are sacred cows in the fight against corruption, especially corruption cases involving some former governors, nobody would be spared, no matter how close the person may be to the President.

According to the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, "nobody is going to be spared. The Ibori's case trials have commenced both here and in London and now his fate is in the courts. If you commit an offence that is corruption-related, we charge you to court. Once the banking sector corruption cases are over, we will look at other sectors that are capable of undermining the Nigerian drive to move out of the list of most corrupt nations".

He however explained "there is no way I can shut my door against anybody. If an armed robber today is charged to court, and he complains that his trial is unfair, would I say he cannot come to my office to lodge his complaint? He would lodge his complaint, I will go through his complaint, if the complaint lacks merit, I will dismiss it. The most important thing is that no Nigerian judge has ever accused me of interference.

The judiciary is doing their job and we abide by them.

Citing the recent Central Bank audit of banks, Aondoakaa stated that Nigeria's rating would have improved greatly if measures taken to curb the evil in the public sector were replicated in the private sector.

"The corruption is in the banking sector. I have already been given a clear report of the problems in the private sector. And mind you, Nigeria has never had it so good. The first year we came in we brought it down to 147. We took it to 121 and then this corruption that manifested in private sector, the NDIC has confirmed that it happened from January, 2009", he said.

He disclosed that before now, it was "only under the present regime that the country has recorded this great fit. The closest was when Nigeria was on number three in the bottom of the table. So we brought it down in the first year to 147, we moved it down to 121 and now we have a crisis in the banking sector which the people correctly recorded that there is crisis in the banking sector. People looted money in the banking sector which is a public knowledge. I gave a report and I think the rating must be based on the report I gave.

"Certainly that influenced the rating, which also Transparency International captured in their report. We were at Dubai and Nigeria was heavily praised for the reforms that we have carried out. The anti-corruption body did not complain about Nigeria, rather at the conclusion of the seminar in Dubai, we were co-opted to act in the drafting of the reform of peer review", he said.

According to him "with what happened in the banking sector, you must commend the EFCC and the governor of the central bank for taking the bull by the horn. First, from the recovery we made, that shows clearly that people were really stealing money because we couldn't have made such a quick recovery of over N170 billion in two months. That means that people were stealing this money and hiding it.

We are also targeting the assets of these people. We will get them both here and outside the country where they have gone. We will recover the money. The people will find this very unattractive".

South Africa: Zuma Tells Cabinet Team to Tackle Corruption Scourge

Linda Ensor

19 November 2009

Johannesburg — President Jacob Zuma and his Cabinet have vowed to deal with the "scourge" of corruption in the government in a determined and co-ordinated way to prevent it infesting every nook and cranny of society.

The Cabinet yesterday delivered on Zuma's promise in his state of the nation speech to make rooting out corruption one of the priorities of the government.

It will set up an interministerial committee to investigate and make recommendations on "extraordinary steps" to deal with the cancer of corruption in the public service. The decision amounts to an admission by the country's leaders that existing measures to combat corruption are not working, and that urgent action is needed.

The task of the committee will be to devise a comprehensive anticorruption action plan to ensure all corrupt public servants are brought to book as swiftly as possible.

Government spokesman Themba Maseko said at a post-Cabinet media briefing yesterday that much more political direction would be given to state law-enforcement agencies to ensure all incidents of corruption were investigated and strong action was taken.

Public confidence in the government and its agencies has taken a battering in the past few years as a result of the constant stream of media reports on corruption.

On Tuesday, it was revealed that all was not above board in the Department of Correctional Services when it was under former minister Ngconde Balfour .

Allegations emerging from the fraud trial of former national police commissioner Jackie Selebi have fuelled this sense of SA's fatal slippage.

Transparency International reported this week that SA came 55th this year out of 180 countries measured against its corruption perception index.

"Government is of the view that if it does not provide leadership on this scourge of corruption the chances are that it will continue and permeate each and every aspect of South African life," Maseko said.

"We want to give confidence to the public and the international community that government will deal decisively with any incident of corruption in all the spheres of government."

This would be dealt with as a matter of "major priority".

The Cabinet condemned all involved in corrupt practices, including private sector companies that bribed public officials.

The interministerial committee will be chaired by Monitoring and Evaluation Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane, and include Public Service and Administration Minister Richard Baloyi , Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Sicelo Shiceka and Social Development Minister Edna Molewa as well as ministerial representatives of the security cluster. It will present a report and proposed strategy to the Cabinet lekgotla in January, which will plot the government's programme of action for the next three years.

Zuma will probably make an announcement on what concrete steps would be taken in his state of the nation speech next year.

If considered necessary, the committee could propose amendments to legislation, the appointment of a permanent anticorruption force or the appointment of an anticorruption commission as recommended by African National Congress treasurer-general Mathews Phosa recently, although these specific suggestions were not discussed by the Cabinet.

The committee will also study the Public Service Commission's recommendations on corruption as well as other reports and draw lessons from the anticorruption strategies of other countries.

Maseko said the Cabinet was concerned that no action had been taken on the numerous reports on corruption which had emerged from investigations within different government departments.

These reports had given rise to the perception that the incidence of corruption within the government in SA was on the rise.

"SA takes very strong exception to corruption as this is a matter which has a negative impact on the country's reputation," Maseko said.

"We want to deal decisively with the perception that corruption is on the rise in the country."

The Cabinet noted the report presented to Parliament this week by Special Investigating Unit head Willie Hofmeyr on incidents of corruption in the Department of Correctional Services, and expressed its confidence that steps would be taken against all individuals implicated.

Parliament's correctional services committee reacted with shock to Hofmeyr's report on how top correctional services officials colluded with a major company in tender rigging.

The officials allegedly accepted millions of rand as "inducements" to ensure contracts worth billions went to a single group of companies.

Hofmeyr mentioned no names, but his report implied that Balfour could be in deep trouble. Balfour had a former director-general, Vernie Petersen, transferred to the Department of Sport in the period when Petersen had begun cracking down on corruption in the department.

The Bosasa group won contracts worth more than R1bn from the department.

Africa: Winners and Losers In Corruption Stakes

John Allen and Adiel Ismail

19 November 2009

Cape Town — Botswana continues to be seen as Africa’s least corrupt, and Somalia as the continent’s – and the world’s – most corrupt country, according to a new survey published this week.

But Botswana comes in at only 37th place in a list of 180 nations, which New Zealand tops as the perceived least corrupt country in the world. Three-quarters of the nations of sub-Saharan Africa fall in the bottom half of the list.

These are among the revelations of the "Corruption Perceptions Index 2009," published by Transparency International, a civil society group which describes itself as a global coalition against corruption.

The survey ranks perceptions of corruption on an index of 1 to 10, with 1 indicating the highest level of corruption and 10 the lowest. The index is a "survey of surveys," relying on research done by 10 organizations, ranging from the African Development Bank and World Bank to the Economist Intelligence Unit and the World Economic Forum.

The only African countries ranked above 5 on the index are Botswana (5.6), Mauritius (5.4) and Cape Verde (5.1).

The survey suggests that Africa’s 10 least corrupt countries are (world ranking in parentheses): Botswana (37), Mauritius (42), Cape Verde (46), Seychelles (54), South Africa (55), Namibia (56), Ghana (69), Burkina Faso (79), Swaziland (79) and Lesotho (89).

It ranks the 10 most corrupt as: Somalia (180 in the world), Sudan (176), Chad (175), Guinea (168), Equatorial Guinea (168), Burundi (168), Guinea-Bissau (162), Congo-Brazzaville (162), Democratic Republic of Congo (162) and Angola (162).

Although the survey warns that it “is not intended to measure a country's progress over time,” a number of African countries have dramatically improved their positions in world rankings in the past year.

Gambia leapt 52 places, from 158 to 106, and Liberia 41 places, from 138 to 97 in the world. Perceptions of Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and Rwanda have also pushed them towards the ranks of less corrupt countries.

But the positions of other countries have slid back in the rankings, with Tanzania dropping 24 places, from 102 to 126, Mauritania 15 places, from 115 to 130, Madagascar and Senegal both slipping 14 places, from 85 to 99, and Nigeria, dropping nine places from 121 to 130.

In commentary published with the index, Transparency International said sub-Saharan African countries’ improvements “do not reflect substantial and sustainable improvements in local accountability. The overall picture remains one of serious corruption challenges across the region.”

Although Liberia’s new government had received recognition for its efforts to stamp out corruption, “recent scandals affecting government procurement and financial management, and the perception that too many government officials are political appointees, continue to undermine transparency, accountability and public trust in the political leadership.”

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Kenya, Guinea, Zimbabwe and Niger were singled out for failing “to address the vicious cycle that links corruption to poverty.”

In South Africa, Ghana and Senegal, “high-profile anti-corruption cases and scandals continue to be regularly reported… and risk undermining political stability as well as the governments’ capacity to provide effective basic services in sectors such as education, health and water.”

Despite the wealth in natural resources enjoyed by Angola, the DR Congo, Guinea, Chad and Sudan, the survey said, “these countries have not been able to translate their wealth into sustainable poverty-reduction programmes. Instead, high levels of corruption in the extractive industries consistently contribute to economic stagnation, inequality and conflict.”

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