Transparency International released its 2018 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) on Monday, reporting that “most countries are failing to make serious inroads against corruption.”
While the research indicates that Western countries are in general less implicated in corruption, in 2018 the United States for the first time since 2011 fell out of the top 20 countries on the CPI, after dropping four points since 2017.
From President Donald Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to President Jimmy Morales of Guatemala and Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, the international non-governmental organisation reports that the Americas region has seen a rise in leadership styles that favour an undermining of free and independent media, a silencing and control of civil society and an increase in anti-immigration policies.
“The low score comes at a time when the US is experiencing threats to its system of checks and balances as well as an erosion of ethical norms at the highest levels of power,” reports Transparency International.
Over two-thirds of countries included in Transparency International’s research scored below 50 out of a possible 100 in the 2018 CPI, with the average score being 43.
The CPI uses a scale of 1-100, with 0 being the most corrupt and 100 being the least.
The first index was released in 1995 and included only 41 countries. In 2018 180 countries participate in the research, which has become the leading global indicator of public sector corruption.
The index offers an annual snapshot of the relative degree of corruption by ranking countries and territories from all over the globe. The index captures the informed views of analysts, business people and experts in countries around the world.
According to Transparency International, full democracies score an average of 75 on the index, while flawed democracies score an average of 49, and hybrid regimes — which show elements of autocratic tendencies — score 35. Autocratic regimes perform worst, with an average score of just 30 on the index.
Denmark and New Zealand top the index with 88 and 87 points, respectively.
With a score of 43 (the global average), South Africa remains unchanged on the CPI since 2017.
Transparency International noted in its report the steps to address anti-corruption that President Ramaphosa has undertaken, notably the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture, chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo and the Mokgoro and PIC inquiries.
The Zondo commission is investigating allegations of state capture, corruption and fraud in the public sector and state owned enterprises.
Running simultaneously is an inquiry chaired by retired Constitutional Court Justice Yvonne Mokgoro, established to determine the competency of certain National Prosecuting Authority advocates.
A third inquiry headed by former Supreme Court of Appeal president Judge Lex Mpati is investigating allegations of impropriety at the Public Investment Corporation (PIC).
Despite commitments from African Union leaders who declared 2018 as the African Year of Anti-Corruption last January, this year’s CPI presents an unfavourable situation in Africa, with only eight of 49 countries scoring more than 43 out of 100 on the index.
At the top of the African list is the Seychelles, with a score of 66 out of 100, followed by Botswana with a score of 61 and Cabo Verde with a score of 57.
Ranking last on the list is Somalia with a score of 10 points, followed by South Sudan with 13.
This places sub-Saharan Africa in the position of the lowest scoring region on the index, with an average score of just 32. Sub-Saharan Africa is followed closely by the Eastern Europe and Central Asian region, with a score of 35.
“The 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) released today reveals that the continued failure of most countries to significantly control corruption is contributing to a crisis of democracy around the world,” reported Transparency International.
Patricia Moreira, Managing Director of Transparency International said: “With many democratic institutions under threat across the globe – often by leaders with authoritarian or populist tendencies — we need to do more to strengthen checks and balances and protect citizens’ rights.”
In the last six years, 20 countries have seen a notable improvement in their scores, including Estonia and Côte D’Ivoire, while 16 countries including Australia and Chile, have seen a decline.