HARARE – Zimbabwe has retained its dubious position among some of the highly corrupt countries in the world, only moving one rung up in the 2020 Transparency International Index.
The latest barometer, which measures perceptions of corruption in public institutions, puts the country at 157th position out of 180 examined nations.
In 2019 it ranked 158th.
Zimbabwe’s score remained unchanged at just 24 out of 100, way below the Sub-Saharan Africa average of 32, said Transparency International in its global corruption perception report released on Thursday.
The survey, which focused on the administration of coronavirus funds, used a scale of 0 to 100, where countries scoring 0 are considered “highly corrupt” while those nabbing 100 are “very clean.”
Denmark and New Zealand topped the global rankings as the cleanest countries.
And in southern Africa, Seychelles maintained its pole position as the most graft-free country in the region, with a score of 66, followed by Botswana, 60, and Cabo Verde, 58.
Anchoring the regional index are Sudan, 16, Somalia, 12, and South Sudan, 12.
“Across the region, the Covid-19 pandemic highlights structural gaps in national healthcare systems, corruption risk associated with public procurement, and the misappropriation of emergency funds,” the global anti-corruption watchdog said.
“The economic shock of the pandemic led to protests and dissent in many countries, including South Africa, 44, Angola, 27, and Zimbabwe, 24, about rising cost of living, corruption and the widespread misuse of emergency funds.”
Amid public outcry, President Emmerson Mnangagwa was forced to sack his health minister Obadiah Moyo last year after awarding a US$60 million procurement tender for coronavirus PPE to Drax International, a shelf company, without due process.
Drax International had only been registered for two weeks when it received a US$2 million payout in public funds from the minister through a bank account in Hungary, triggering an Interpol investigation.
President Mnangagwa’s family has been linked to the company’s country representative, Delish Nguwaya, who also faced charges but has since been removed from remand.
Critics say Mnangagwa is failing to deliver on his election promise to end graft because of his alleged direct or indirect involvement with powerful cartels who are looting public funds and plundering the country’s natural resources such as gold and diamonds, a charge he denies.
The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC), which faces constant criticism for failing to tackle high crimes by government bureaucrats, or Zanu PF-leaning individuals, has vowed that “2021 is the year of uprooting corruption from all our public and private institutions.”