Saturday, May 15, 2021

High perceptions of corruption shock the nation

A report by Afrobarometer says that despite international accolades that Botswana has been receiving, there is growing evidence among Batswana that corruption on the rise.

The report states that eight out of 10 Batswana (81%) believe that government officials are involved in corruption and half (51%) of Batswana say that the level of corruption has increased over the past year.

Four-fifths (81%) of Batswana perceive government officials to be involved in corruption, followed by 77% for MPs and local government councilors and 70% for the President and officials in his office.

Increases in perceived corruption are most striking with regard to the office of the President, rising by 29 percentage points (from 41% to 70%) between 2008 and 2014.

An increase of 18 percentage points is observed with regard to MPs and local government councilors between 2008 and 2014, while perceived corruption among government officials rose by 13 percentage points.

According to the report, most Batswana (84%) want the President to appear before Parliament to justify his policies and procedures.

“Three-fourths (75%) of citizens support for a law requiring senior government officials, ministers, members of Parliament (MPs), and the President to publicly declare their assets and liabilities,” says the report.

Most Batswana believe that political institutions are involved in corruption, and over time this perception has increased.

“The level of perceived corruption across all political institutions is higher among urban residents than among semi-urban and rural dwellers,” says the report.

The report also shows that Batswana perceive high ÔÇô and increasing ÔÇô levels of corruption amongst politicians and state institutions. As measures of transparency and accountability, large majorities of Batswana favour laws requiring the President to appear before Parliament to justify his policies and procedures as well as public disclosure of assets and liabilities by senior government officials.

The report says perceived corruption in state institutions is high among urban residents. It is highest for the police at 90%, followed by semi-urban residents (81%) and rural residents at 69%.

“The same trend can be observed for BURS where 75% urban dwellers think that BURS is involved in corruption, followed by 67% semi-urban and 61% rural residents. While 69% urban residents perceive corruption in judges and magistrates, 61% rural residents perceive corruption in the judiciary and semi-urban residents trail at 59%,” says the report.

Half (51%) of Batswana say that the level of corruption has increased “a lot” or “somewhat” over the past year, while 23% say that it has decreased and 14% say it has stayed the same.

Most Batswana (84%) want the President to justify his policies and procedures to Parliament, while a mere 6% disagree with the idea of the President justifying his policies to Parliament.

In terms of support for requiring ministers, MPs, and other senior government officials to publicly declare their assets and liabilities, three-fourths (75%) of Batswana “agree” or “strongly agree” with the introduction of such a law. Only 16% oppose such a law.

Only one-third (33%) of Batswana see it as the responsibility of voters to ensure that, once elected, MPs do their jobs. This is a decrease of nine percentage points from 2012. A larger proportion (38%) assigns this responsibility to the President.

Similarly, the proportion of respondents who say that it’s voters’ responsibility to ensure that local councillors do their jobs declined from 44% in 2012 to 38%.

With regard to the President, 37% of Batswana say it’s the voters’ responsibility to ensure that the chief executive does his job. About one-fourth of respondents apportion the responsibility to Parliament and local council (23%) and to the President himself (25%).

Similarly, majorities of Batswana believe that state institutions are involved in corruption.

Perceived corruption is highest for the police, with 81% of respondents saying that “most” or “all” of the police are corrupt, possibly because public contact with the police is more frequent than with other state institutions.
Two-thirds (68%) say that the Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS) is corrupt, and 62% perceive corruption among judges and magistrates.

Public perceptions of corruption among state institutions have been increasing since 2008, recording 20-percentage-point jumps with regard to the BURS and the judiciary.

Afrobarometer conducts face-to-face interviews in the language of the respondent’s choice with nationally representative samples of between 1,200 and 2,400 respondents.

The Afrobarometer team in Botswana, led by Star Awards (Pty) Ltd, interviewed 1,200 adult Batswana in June and July 2014. A sample of this size yields results with a margin of error of +/-3% at a 95% confidence level. Previous surveys have been conducted in Botswana in 1999, 2003, 2006, 2008, and 2012.

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