Friday, January 24, 2020

Public sector corruption in Swaziland getting worse, Transparency International report suggests

The public sector in Swaziland (eSwatini) is ‘corrupt to highly corrupt’, according to the latest annual report from Transparency International.

The kingdom ruled by King Mswati III as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, and where political parties are barred from taking part in elections, scored 34 out of a possible 100 in the 2019 Corruption Perception Index (CPI).

On the scale zero is ‘highly corrupt’ and 100 is ‘very clean’. The index ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption according to experts and businesspeople.

The score of 34 puts Swaziland in the area of corrupt to highly corrupt according to the CPI scale. In 2018 Swaziland scored 38 and in 2017 it scored 37.

Transparency International recommended, ‘To end corruption and restore trust in politics, it is imperative to prevent opportunities for political corruption and to foster the integrity of political systems.’

In Swaziland the King chooses the Prime Minister and cabinet ministers. He also picks senior judges and senior civil servants. 

Following elections in 2018, King Mswati appointed eight members of his Royal Family to the kingdom’s 30-member Senate and another six to the House of Assembly.

In July 2019 nearly one in four people (24 percent) surveyed in Swaziland believed their Prime Minister was corrupt, according to a separate report from Transparency International.
Nearly one in three (32 percent) thought government officials were corrupt. Just over half (51 percent) thought corruption had increased in the previous 12 months. 

Nearly one in five (17 percent) users of public services reported they had paid a bribe in the previous 12 months: 21 percent said they had paid a bribe to get an ID card; 10 percent said they had bribed the police.

The results were published in the Global Corruption Barometer (GCB) – Africa survey, a collaboration between Afrobarometer and Transparency International. 

In an annual review on human rights in Swaziland published in 2019 the United States Department of State reported, ‘there was a widespread public perception of corruption in the executive and legislative branches of government and a consensus that the government did little to combat it’. 

The report stated, ‘There were widespread reports of immigration and customs officials seeking bribes to issue government documents such as visas and resident permits. In March [2018] police raided the Department of Immigration, where they confiscated files and arrested and charged two senior immigration officers. The government filed charges against one of the senior officers based on allegations she had processed applications for travel documents for foreign nationals who were not present in, and had never visited, the country.’

It added, ‘Credible reports continued that a person’s relationship with government officials influenced the awarding of government contracts; the appointment, employment, and promotion of officials; recruitment into the security services; and school admissions. Authorities rarely took action on reported incidents of nepotism.’

See also

Swaziland King appoints eight of his family to Senate amid reports of widespread vote buying elsewhere

New drive against corruption in Swaziland leaves out King Mswati, the biggest drain on the public purse

Nearly one in four in Swaziland believe Prime Minister is corrupt, Transparency International reports

Swaziland Auditor General fears fraud as govt pensions paid to the deceased

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