Mbabane: Noticeably, Eswatini’s corruption problem is worsening year in and year out and puts the country among the worst corrupt globally.
This is a conclusion drawn from the 2019 Corruption Perception Index report released on Thursday by Transparency International – a global movement with one vision: a world in which government, business, civil society and the daily lives of people are free of corruption.
The 180 countries and territories involved are ranked by experts and businesses on their perceived levels of corruption in the public sector. The scale used is zero to 100, where zero is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean.
Recognisably, Eswatini has been relapsing in its corruption index since 2017. In 2017, the kingdom’s corruption perception index was at level of 39 score out of 100, at level 38 in 2018 and it has been placed at level 34 score in 2019 and ranked 113 out of 180 countries.
Regionally, Eswatini is among the 13 worst corrupt countries in the region. Eswatini’s corruption perception score is the same as that of Zambia in the region and also the same as those of El Salvador, Kazakhstan, Nepal and Philippines. All these countries were given a score of 34 out of 100.
According to the report, there are five countries where corruption is not at an alarming stage. These countries had a score above 50 and they are: Botswana (61), Gabo Verde (58), Rwanda (53), Mauritius (52) and Namibia (52).
Countries in which corruption is at the highest level are Somalia, which scored 9, Sudan (12), South Sudan (12) and Equatorial Guinea (16).
With an average score of 32, Sub-Saharan Africa is the lowest-scoring region on the CPI, which is indicative of high levels of corruption and inaction in tackling it.
The perception in the region is that money is used to win elections and buy influence, despite the African Union’s Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption.
In the Kingdom of Eswatini, cases of alleged corruption, where money was reportedly used to buy influence were the order of the day. The courts were inundated by lots of cases where aggrieved candidates complained about the influencing of voters through money and other material things.
In addition to ranking countries according to their perceived levels of corruption, the CPI report recommends reducing possibilities for special interest involvement in disbursement of budgets and public services; eliminating conflicts of interest; regulating political lobbying and sanctioning misinformation campaigns; and strengthening protection of whistle-blowers, journalists and activists.
According to Transparency International, to end corruption and restore trust in politics, it is imperative to prevent opportunities for political corruption and to foster the integrity of political systems.
Transparency International recommends:
MANAGE CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
Governments should reduce the risk of undue influence in policy-making by tightening controls over financial and other interests of government officials. Governments should also address “revolving doors”, establish cooling-off periods for former officials and ensure rules are properly enforced and sanctioned.
CONTROL POLITICAL FINANCING
In order to prevent excessive money and influence in politics, governments should improve and properly enforce campaign finance regulations. Political parties should also disclose their sources of income, assets and loans, and governments should empower oversight agencies with stronger mandates and appropriate resources.
STRENGTHEN ELECTORAL INTEGRITY
For democracy to be effective against corruption, governments must ensure that elections are free and fair. Preventing and sanctioning vote-buying and misinformation campaigns are essential to rebuilding trust in government and ensuring that citizens can use their vote to punish corrupt politicians.
REGULATE LOBBYING ACTIVITIES
Governments should promote open and meaningful access to decision-making and consult a wider range of groups, beyond well-resourced lobbyists and a few private interests. Lobbying activities should be public and easily accessible.
TACKLE PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT
Governments should create mechanisms to ensure that service delivery and public resource allocation are not driven by personal connections or are biased towards special interest groups at the expense of the overall public good.
Governments should protect civil liberties and political rights, including freedom of speech, expression and association. Governments should engage civil society and protect citizens, activists, whistle blowers and journalists in monitoring and exposing corruption.
REINFORCE CHECKS AND BALANCES
Governments must promote the separation of powers, strengthen judicial independence and preserve checks and balances.
|Score/100||Country/Territory||Global Ranking||Regional Ranking|
|25||Central African Republic||153||20|