Anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International says the African
Union and regional institutions must do more to encourage good
governance in East Africa. Many countries, including Burundi, Eritrea,
Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, and Uganda are at or near the bottom
of the organization's latest Corruption Perception Index released on
Tuesday. VOA Correspondent Alisha Ryu has more from our East Africa
Bureau in Nairobi.
Calling the results of the survey for East
and Horn of African countries "grim," Transparency International's
executive director in Kenya, Job Ogonda says the time has come for the
African Union and the East African Community to create anti-corruption
bodies, which are solely accountable to the people and have the power
to curb abuses.
"If I, as a Kenyan, do not trust in my
government to uphold good governance and accountability, then I have to
be able to appeal to the African Union or the East African Community.
That means institutions within the African Union, such as the African
Union Convention against Corruption, need to have teeth and they need
to begin biting. Right now, there is an advisory council that has been
set up within the African Union. That advisory council needs to
scrutinize the reports that have been submitted by countries that are
signatories to the convention. They also need to tender the same
reports during the general meeting of the African Union and demand an
explanation or action."
War-ravaged Somalia topped Transparency
International's index as the most corrupt out of 180 countries
surveyed. But other countries in the region did not fare much
better. Djibouti, Rwanda and Tanzania were the region's best by
Existing anti-corruption agencies, such as
Kenya's Anti-Corruption Commission and Uganda's Inspector General of
Government have been widely criticized for lacking independence because
they are funded by their respective governments, where power largely
rests in the hands of a few elite politicians.
Ogonda notes that
Uganda, for example, dropped 15 places in the Corruption Perception
Index, from 111 last year to 126 this year, on the belief that the
government of President Yoweri Museveni has been weakening the office
of the Inspector General of Government.
"The office of the
IGG, it is largely toothless. Parliament has also been largely
disempowered from its oversight role. As a result of that,
institutions such as the National Social Security Fund is beginning to
engage in shenanigans, where they buy property for the
politically-connected for inflated prices, passing on tax money or
citizen savings to politically-connected people," he said.
Kenya's ranking of 147 was little changed from last year, placing it just barely ahead of Zimbabwe.
says the formation of a coalition government in Kenya earlier this year
has done little to stem rampant corruption in the form of bribery,
kickbacks, and embezzlements in the public sector. "You find that all
institutions of government are working not in the interest of citizens
but in the interest of either individuals or a narrow group of
people. When politics is arranged like that, how then do you expect
the civil service to deliver services to the citizens?"
week, the President of the East African Association of Anti-corruption
Authorities Edward Hoseah suggested that the best way for existing
institutions to combat corruption is to work closely with the local
He did not say how this would work in countries where governments are under equal pressure to allow more media freedom.