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Sunday, 29 November 2009

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.

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