ZIMBABWE has been ranked as the 14th most corrupt nation out of 180 countries surveyed by Transparency International (TI) due to the breakdown of formal procedures and structures at most institutions that are operating in an unstable economic environment.
TI Corruption Perception Index (CPI) measures the perceived levels of public sector corruption in a given country and is a composite index, drawing on different expert and business surveys.
The 2008 CPI scores 180 countries (the same number as the 2007 CPI) on a scale from zero (highly corrupt) to 10 (highly clean).
Zimbabwe, which was ranked 166th had a score of 1,8 on the CPI scale, indicating that the country was slowly heading towards the highly corrupt level.
The countryâ€™s confidence level was ranked between 1,5 to 2,7 out of the possible 10 marks.
Commenting on strengthening oversight and accountability on the Zimbabweâ€™s rating, TI chairperson, Huguette Labelle said whether in high or low-income countries, the challenge of reining in corruption requires functioning societal and governmental institutions.
“Poorer countries are often plagued by corrupt judiciaries and ineffective parliamentary oversight. Wealthy countries, on the other hand, show evidence of insufficient regulation of the private sector, in terms of addressing overseas bribery by their countries, and weak oversight of financial institutions and transactions,” said Labelle.
“Stemming corruption requires strong oversight through parliaments, law enforcement, independent media and a vibrant civil society,” Labelle said.
Labelle said when such institutions are weak, corruption spirals out of control with horrendous consequences for ordinary people, and for justice and equality in societies more broadly.
Denmark, New Zealand and Sweden share the highest score at 9,3, for CPI followed immediately by Singapore at 9,2.
Bringing up the rear is Somalia at 1,0 trailing Iraq and Myanmar at 1,3 and Haiti at 1,4 respectively.
“In the poorest countries, corruption levels can mean the difference between life and death, when money for hospitals or clean water is in play,” said Labelle.
“The continuing high levels of corruption and poverty plaguing many of the worldâ€™s societies amount to an on-going humanitarian disaster and cannot be tolerated. But even in more privileged countries, with enforcement disturbingly uneven, a tougher approach to tackling corruption is needed.”
TI said in low-income countries, rampant corruption had jeopardised the global fight against poverty,
threatening to derail the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
According to TIâ€™s 2008 Global Corruption Report, unchecked levels of corruption would add US$50 billion or nearly half of annual global aid outlays to the cost of achieving the MDG on water and sanitation.
“Not only does this call for a redoubling of efforts in low-income countries, where the welfare of significant portions of the population hangs in the balance, it also calls for a more focussed and co-ordinated approach by the global donor community to ensure development assistance is designed to strengthen institutions of governance and oversight in recipient countries, and that aid flows themselves are fortified against abuse and graft,” said TI in a statement.
Commenting on corporate bribery and double standards TI said the weakening performance of some wealthy exporting countries, with notable European decliners in the 2008 CPI, casts a further critical light on government commitment to reign in the questionable methods of their companies in acquiring and managing overseas business, in addition to domestic concerns about issues such as the role of money in politics.
“The continuing emergence of foreign bribery scandals indicates a broader failure by the worldâ€™s wealthiest countries to live up to the promise of mutual accountability in the fight against corruption,” said TI.
“This sort of double standard is unacceptable and disregards international legal standards,” said Labelle.
“Beyond its corrosive effects on the rule of law and public confidence, this lack of resolution undermines the credibility of the wealthiest nations in calling for greater action to fight corruption by low-income countries,” he said
While score changes in the index are not rapid, statistically significant changes are evident in certain countries from the high to the low end of the CPI.
Looking at source surveys included in both the 2007 and 2008 index, significant declines can be seen in the scores of Bulgaria, Burundi, Maldives, Norway and the United Kingdom.
Similarly, statistically significant improvements over the last year can be identified in Albania, Cyprus, Georgia, Mauritius, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar, South Korea, Tonga and Turkey.
By Paul Nyakazeya