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Survey Says Kenya Corruption As Bad As Ever


A new study of corruption in Kenya shows there has been little progress despite repeated promises by President Mwai Kibaki's government to crack down on graft. As Nick Wadhams reports from Nairobi, everyday Kenyans can expect to pay bribes at least a couple of times a year.

The report from Transparency International's Kenya branch says that Kenyans have largely come to accept the petty corruption that is part of their lives. They can expect to pay at least 2.5 bribes each year, double what they paid in 2005.

The trend is a setback, because President Kibaki came to power in part on his pledges to eradicate corruption in Kenya, which ranks 142nd among 163 countries on Transparency International's global corruption list. Posters have been put up in offices and on billboards to raise public awareness, but to little effect.

Yet the anti-corruption drive has slowed, and many government ministers have been embroiled in allegations of graft.

"Looking at the statistics that we received from this report, the situation is as bad as it was four years ago," said Richard Leakey, the head of the Kenya branch of Transparency International.

"The Kibaki government seems to have been totally unable to address corruption at the basic level. It's clear that you can deal with corruption and an awful lot of it has to do with making people more aware and participatory," he continued.

According to the survey, the biggest bribes were paid when high school students sought to enroll in Kenya's overcrowded university system. People also reportedly paid large bribes when seeking jobs. And Kenya's police force was seen as the most corrupt agency in the country, the sixth year in a row it has attained that dubious honor.

The Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission, which will soon release its own figures, says the public is partly to blame because people who are stopped by the police will often offer a bribe to avoid long court proceedings.

The Anti-Corruption Commission's spokesman, Nicholas Simani, says people must learn to say no to paying bribes.

"Majority of the general public, they're the ones who basically induce this kind of activity. So we need to have a two-way understanding here," said Simani. "You can say the police are the most corrupt, but they are being corrupted because the public actually are the ones who are also giving it out. So the public also needs to be educated on this. Then we are saying that both of them are guilty. The giver and the taker is guilty of an offense."

Transparency International did not touch on larger issues of government corruption. For the report, the group asked 2,400 ordinary Kenyans across the country about their perceptions of corruption and whether they thought it had eased.

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