Transparency International has released its 2016 Perceptions Index Report in which it said Liberia is ranked 90 among the corrupt nations.
The group said Liberia has failed to make significant improvement in fighting corruption. The latest development followed utterances by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on January 23, 2017 that her administration had fallen short in its fight against corruption, which she referred to as “public enemy number one” when she took the oath of office in 2016.
In her final state of the nation address, President said “We have not fully met the anti-corruption pledge that we made in 2006.” It is not because of the lack of political will to do so, but because of the intractability of dependency and dishonesty cultivated from years of deprivation and poor governance.
This statement provoked criticism from cross section of the public declaring that the Liberian Leader has failed to fight corruption and reconcile the people of Liberia.
Details surrounding Liberia’s performance have not been posted on the organization’s website; however, it suggested that the West African nation is ranked among some of the worst corrupt countries on the continent.
According to the report, Somalia is ranked the most corrupt nation in the world, followed by South Sudan, North Korea, and Syria.
The index scores countries on a range of factors, such as whether government officials are held to account or go unpunished for corruption; the perceived prevalence of bribery; and whether public institutions respond to citizens’ needs.
Nearly 70 percent of the 176 countries scored below 50 (including Liberia) on the 100-point scale, with a zero meaning a country is perceived to be highly corrupt and 100 indicating it’s perceived to be very clean.
The organization said in its annual Corruption Perceptions Index for 2016 that in countries with populist or autocratic leaders, “instead of tackling crony capitalism, those leaders usually install even worse forms of corrupt systems.”
The group’s board chairman, Jose Ugaz, cited Hungary and Turkey as examples. Their scores have worsened in recent years under leaders with authoritarian leanings, while Argentina, which ousted a populist government, has improved in the rankings, he said.
Based on expert opinions of public sector corruption, the annual report rated Denmark and New Zealand as the least-corrupt countries, followed by Finland, Sweden, Switzerland, and Norway.
Rounding out the Top 10 least corrupt were Singapore, the Netherlands, Canada, and the tie-placing trio of Germany, Luxembourg and the United Kingdom in the No. 10 spot. The United States placed 18th, down from 16th in 2015.
Cape Verde and São Tomé and Príncipe are the most improved African countries in the 2016 index. Both countries held democratic presidential elections in 2016. It is no surprise that the independent electoral observer teams labelled the Cape Verde elections for 2016 as “exemplary”. This election that saw Jorge Carlos Fonseca re-elected, was held in a framework of a continuously improving integrity system, as observed by various African governance reviews.
In São Tomé and Príncipe elections held in July 2016 led to a smooth change of government, which is increasingly a challenge in the African region.
According to the report, despite being a model for stability in the region, Ghana, together with another six African countries, has significantly declined. The rampant corruption in Ghana led citizens to voice their frustrations through the election, resulting in an incumbent president losing for the first time in Ghana’s history.
Some other large African countries have failed to improve their scores on the index. These include South Africa, Nigeria, Tanzania and Kenya. South African President Jacob Zuma was in court and in the media for corruption scandals. This included his own appeal against findings in a report by the Public Prosecutor Thuli Madonsela, regarding undue public spending in his private homestead in Nkandla.
In Kenya – despite the adoption of a few anti-corruption measures including passing a law on the right to information – has a long way to go. President Uhuru expressed frustration that all his anti-corruption efforts were not yielding much. He may need new strategies as Kenyan citizens go to the polls in 2017.