Transparency International has launched the 10th edition of its Global Corruption Barometer, disclosing that a survey conducted in 35 African countries, including Zambia, reveals that corruption has gotten worse in African governments.

And Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) chapter president Rueben Lifuka has disclosed that the Zambia Police Service has remained the most corrupt institution in Zambia, with the overall bribery rate increasing from 17 per cent in 2015, to 18 per cent this year.

Meanwhile, Lifuka has insisted that government should introduce a law, which will subject all politically-exposed persons to a lifestyle audit.

Speaking when he launched the Global Corruption Barometer alongside the commemoration of the African Union Day Against Corruption in Lusaka, Thursday, Lifuka said most of the citizens talked to about the state of corruption in their countries submitted, and that the trend had worsened over the previous 12 months.

“One of the key findings, which should be a source of concern to all of us on this day as we commemorate this particular day is that, 55 per cent of the people talked to think that corruption has increased in the previous 12 months before they were interviewed. Only 23 per cent think that corruption decreased, and whilst 16 per cent think that corruption stayed the same way. People were asked if they thought the state of corruption in their countries had increased and how prevalent this was. But there is also another question, which was asked as to whether government was doing enough. But still on this question, you will see that the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is an area of concern because 85 per cent of all citizens see corruption to be on the rise. By contrast, about half of the citizens in Burkina Faso and Gambia think corruption in their countries had decreased, and the responses where 54 per cent and 46 per cent respectively,” Lifuka said.

“On government action against corruption, 59 per cent think their government is doing a bad job in tackling corruption and 34 per cent think their government is doing well. So, from the 47,000 interviewed, 59 per cent did not think their government is doing enough to tackle corruption. But for Gabon, it’s even more worrisome because 87 per cent of the citizens in Gabon think their government is failing to fight corruption. By contrast, 66 per cent of citizens in Sierra Leone think their government is doing well in tackling corruption.”

And Lifuka said the police service had remained the most corrupt institution world over.

“Corruption by institution, not surprisingly, number one is the police. 47 per cent of all the respondents believe that most or all people in the police are corrupt; followed by government officials at 39 per cent; members of parliament at 36 per cent; business executives also 36 per cent; the President of Prime Minister’s office at 34 per cent; judges and magistrates at 34 per cent; local government officials at 33 per cent; traditional leaders at 22 per cent; NGOs at 20 per cent and lowest is religious leaders at 16 per cent. And it’s not surprising that the police are high on this list because even in the 2015 Global Corruption Barometer, the police was still considered by those talked to be one of the entities that are corrupt. We then looked at bribery in terms of access to public services and the results indicate that one in four people who used the public service in the last 12 months had to pay a bribe in the 35 countries that we are talking about, that’s approximately 130 million people,” he said.

“66 per cent of those surveyed in Zambia think corruption increased in the last 12 months. 70 per cent think the government is doing a bad job of tackling corruption. 18 per cent of public service users paid a bribe in the previous 12 months and only 48 per cent think that ordinary citizens can make a difference in the fight against corruption. On bribery rate, based on the people who used public service in the previous 12 months, the overall bribery rate has increased from 17 per cent in 2015 to 18 per cent. The number of people who paid bribes in public schools is the only serving grace which has dropped from 12 per cent in 2015 to 10 per cent. For public clinics and health centres, it remains the same at four per cent. Corruption in the police service has also increased from 23 per cent to 27 per cent. Have corruption levels changed in the last 12 months in Zambia? From the responses, it increased from 55 per cent in 2015 to 66 per cent.”

Meanwhile, Lifuka said the lifestyle audits TIZ was demanding for start with the President.

“We do recommend that government urgently appoints a substantive Auditor General. We cannot go on with this acting business! I think there is every need to have a substantive Auditor General. We have to fully operationalize the whistle-blower mechanism as provided for in the Public Interest Disclosure Act. We would also like government to review the Parliamentary and Ministerial Code of Conduct to explicitly provide for lifestyle audits. And I am making this point because I have heard the Vice-President (Inonge Wina) on two occasions making a statement we do not believe in as TI. She said lifestyle audits are not necessary because we have annual declarations of assets, incomes and liabilities. If all MPs and ministers duly declare their assets on an annual basis, then lifestyle audits won’t be a problem. I also want to remind the Vice-President that the President only declares his assets every five years at the time of filing the nominations, there is no requirement for the President to declare his assets on an annual basis. The lifestyle audit that we are calling for starts with the President himself,” said Lifuka.

And ACC deputy director general Rosemary Khuzwayo said Zambia had made some strides in the fight against corruption.

“Zambia has made strides in giving prominence to the fight against corruption; this has been done through policy initiatives, legislative changes and adjustments in the approach to the fight against corruption. As Anti-Corruption Commission, we are cognizant of the importance of asset recovery. We are very mindful that taking back ill-gotten resources is at the core of fighting against corruption because it sends a very clear message that corruption does not pay. Asset recovery also helps augment anti-corruption efforts by making available resources that would otherwise have gone into private pockets. Furthermore, asset recovery enhances public confidence in the fight against corruption because people are able to see the results of anti-corruption interventions. To this effect, the Commission has had a number of high-profile cases that saw the forfeiture of proceeds of crime and these have been well covered by the media,” said Khuzwayo.