Africa-Press – Lesotho. ESOTHO has tumbled from position 61 to 83 on Transparency International (TI)’s corruption perception index. In a report released last week, the anti-corruption watchdog said Lesotho had scored 44 points in 2015, the same as South Africa and Italy.
But last year Lesotho plunged to 39 points, suggesting the country is now perceived to be more corrupt. The country’s poor performance on the corruption rankings is not surprising, according to Thabo Qhesi, the CEO of the Private Sector Foundation of Lesotho (PSFL).
Qhesi said the government and the private sector need to work closely to tackle corruption. “It takes two to tango, the private sector cannot do it alone and the government needs to level the playfield by bringing new policies and renewing old ones to enable us to respond to current challenges,” Qhesi said.
He indicated that the private sector is feeling the impact of corruption, especially where government tenders are concerned. “Entrepreneurs will tell you that it is very difficult now for them to get tenders because government officials have companies and are now also tendering, which is not supposed to happen under normal circumstances,” Qhesi said.
He said delays by the government to process payments also provides a window of opportunity for corrupt elements. “It has been assumed that in order for a certain company to get paid in time it has to pay some bribe to speed up the process and this is terrible for small businesses,” he said.
He said Lesotho’s current ranking reduces investor confidence. “It means the chances of attracting foreign direct investment are minimal,” Qhesi said.
The report shows that in the sub-Saharan region seven countries dropped significantly on the rankings. This is because citizens expressed their dissatisfaction with government’s corruption record at the ballot.
“In countries like Ghana, which is the second worst decline in the 2016 Corruption Perceptions Index in the region, the dissatisfaction of citizens with the government’s corruption record was reflected in their voting at the polls,” the report reads.
“South Africa, which continues to stagnate this year, has witnessed the same,” it says.
“Joseph Kabila’s Democratic Republic of Congo and Yahya Jammeh’s Gambia, which both declined, demonstrate how electoral democracy is tremendously challenged in African countries because of corruption.
The index suggests that in order for the sub-Saharan Africa region to get out of its current status on corruption, African leaders that come into office on an “anti-corruption ticket” will need to live up to their pledges to deliver corruption-free services to their citizens.
They must implement their commitments to the principles of governance, democracy and human rights. This includes strengthening the institutions that hold their governments accountable, as well as the electoral systems that allow citizens to either re-elect them or freely choose an alternative.
Former CEO of BEDCO, Robert Likhang, said there are a number of factors contributing towards Lesotho’s poor ranking on the index. “A decline in economy results in people trying to find ways to survive and one of those ways is fraud,” Likhang said.
“Another thing is terrible services that create a conducive environment for bribes.
It starts with little things like speeding up the process to get a certificate of incorporation,” he said. He added that political instability also contributes to a rise in corruption.
“If it is perceived that politicians themselves are corrupt whether true or not, others find it easy to follow in their footsteps,” he said.
He further indicated that the justice system which takes time to resolve disputes also contributes to corruption. He said this corruption perception has a negative impression on investors and foreign direct investment.
“When the business ecosystem is perceived to be muddied investors do not want to risk their money,” Likhang said.