Widespread graft a hindrance in fight against Covid-19, report says
Mercy Mwai @wangumarci
The widespread corruption in the country has derailed the fight against Covid 19, a new report shows.
Transparency International (TI) in the 2020 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) report, attributed graft to the inequitable distribution of resources.
The report shows that countries where corruption was pervasive, were least equipped to handle crises, like the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to TI, corruption in the country weakened Covid 19 response due to over pricing of crucial commodities required to manage the pandemic, purchase of substandard Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), embezzlement of commodities including donated PPEs and failure of the PPEs to reach those who needed them the most including healthcare workers among other irregularities.
TI-Kenya Executive Director Sheila Masinde regretted that Covid -19 had exposed loopholes in the country’s institutions, especially in public procurement.
According to Masinde, corruption contributes to the continuous crisis of democracy as countries that perform poorly in fighting corruption are more likely to violate democratic norms and institutions.
Likewise, countries with higher levels of corruption tend to be the worst perpetrators of the rule of law and democratic breaches while managing the Covid-19 crisis.
“ It is time to plug the gaps that enable corruption to thrive in Kenya, particularly as we look towards taking the country along a path of recovery.
The government must guarantee that the acquisition and distribution of the much awaited Covid-19 vaccines will be transparent and equitable, as such strong oversight mechanisms are required,” she said.
Chair of Transparency International Delia Ferreira Rubio on her part regretted that countries that perform well on the index, are able to provide universal health coverage and are less likely to violate democratic norms and institutions or the rule of law.
“Covid-19 is not just a health and economic crisis. It is a corruption crisis, one that we are currently failing to manage,” Rubio said adding: “The past year has tested governments like no other in memory, and those with higher levels of corruption have been less able to meet the challenge. But even those at the top of the CPI must urgently address their role in perpetuating corruption at home and abroad.”.
The report ranks Kenya among the worst performers at position 31 out of 100 having scored 28 points in 2019 with 100 being ranked as the cleanest and 0 as the most corrupt.
Kenya’s score still falls below the Sub-Saharan average of 32 and global average of 43, the report says, yet a score below 50 indicates serious levels of public sector corruption.
Interestingly Rwanda scored the highest in the East African region with 54 points followed by Tanzania with 38, Kenya 31, Uganda 27, Burundi 19 and South Sudan the last with 12 points.