Building vibrant and tolerant democracies
The feeling that corruption is getting worse in southern Africa has been boosted by an alarming report by Transparency International, which found that more than half of all those in six countries in the region who come in contact with public service providers – 56 percent – were asked to pay a bribe in the past year.
The report - entitled Daily Lives and Corruption, Public Opinion in Southern Africa surveyed more than 6,000 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe between 2010 and 2011 - als found that 62 percent of people across the region believe corruption has become worse in the past three years.
The good news is that 80 per cent of those interviewed said they were prepared to get involved in the fight against corruption and three-quarters said ordinary people can make a difference in the fight against corruption.
“Governments must wake up to the fact that people will not tolerate corruption any more and start reforming weak institutions, particular the police. People have a right to feel that they are protected by the police and not harassed,” said Chantal Uwimana, Regional Director for Africa and the Middle East at Transparency International.
The report found that people in all six countries named the police as the most corrupt service provider of the nine featured in the survey and that most bribes were paid to the police.
The results showed some regional differences. In four out of the six countries people reported paying bribes to speed up services but in South Africa and the DRC more bribes were paid to avoid problems with the authorities.
Despite this, In five of the six countries people trusted the government more than non-governmental organisations, the media, international organisations or the private sector to fight corruption. However, in Malawi - where a fierce battle is raging between civil society groups and the Bingu wa Mutharika government - non-governmental organisations were trusted just as much as the government.