Police forces are perceived as the most corrupt body among six institutions surveyed in each of the eight countries in the eastern Africa region, according to a report by anti-corruption watchdog, Transparency International (TI).
The Global Corruption Barometer was conducted by the watchdog between 2010 and 2011 in countries that included Rwanda, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Tanzania, DRC, Uganda and Kenya.
The survey looked at institutions like the police, judiciary, customs, registry and permit services, land services, medical services, tax revenue, utilities and education systems.
The corruption prevalence within police ranked 47 percent, followed by judiciary at 40 percent and customs departments at 38 percent.
The survey aimed at exploring the general public’s views about corruption levels in their countries and their government’s efforts to fighting graft.
According to the report, 54 percent of people surveyed in the regional countries reported to have paid a bribe in the past 12 months.
Speaking at the event to launch the barometer in Kigali, Paul Banoba, the TI Senior Programme Coordinator for Africa and the Middle East, said the public always collide with the police, and during their face-off, they always bribe them to stay out of trouble.
“The police are at the forefront of squeezing money from the people in form bribery in order not to implicate them in any scandalous activity,” he stated.
Banoba called upon the police to take the lead in the fight against graft instead of causing it in society.
“In our experience in various countries where we have exposed corruption, we have increasingly established that our partners are engaging the public to fight against graft,” he said, referring to local chapters of the body.
According to Apollinaire Mupiganyi, the Executive Secretary of Transparency Rwanda, the police in Rwanda is trying all the best to fight corruption.
“Any police officer caught trying to bribe the public is punished accordingly, the police as an institution has been sensitised about the consequences of graft,” he added.
However Mupiganyi blamed some Rwandans who still fear to report corruption cases, stressing that that it remains a challenge to his organization.
Samuel Mbithi Kimeu, the Executive Director of Transparency International Kenya, said that despite attempts to eliminate graft by increasing public servants’ salaries, upgrading training, and developing policies that focus directly on factors leading to corruption, graft still exists in Kenya.
“I thought the police and the judiciary being corrupt was a Kenyan problem, but I have realized that other countries also face this challenge,” he said.
Noel Nkurunziza, the president of Burundi’s anti-graft institution, (ABUCO), stated that his country is the most corrupt in eastern Africa due to the ignorance of the people about the dangers of corruption.
“We have a big task of sensitizing our people about the causes of corruption and how to fight it. We are currently learning from Rwanda’s experience where the country has ensured zero tolerance to corruption,” he mentioned.