By: Thoboloko Ntšonyane

Maseru – According to a recent report by Afrobarometer, Basotho consider the police to be the most corrupt institution.

They are followed closely by the civil servants and then comes the parliamentarians, according to the report.

The survey highlights a widespread perception of corruption within these sectors.

Among key findings, the survey revealed that six in 10 Basotho representing 61% of those polled say corruption in the country increased “somewhat” or “a lot” during the year before the survey was carried out,  while two in 10, translating to 21% say it has decreased.

At least 59% of citizens see “most” or “all” police as corrupt “the worst rating” among key institutions the survey enquired on. Also, about 49% of the respondents indicated that civil servants and parliamentarians are corrupt.

The report goes on to indicate the widespread perceptions regarding the corruption decline “dramatically” for the office of the Prime Minister by at least 26% points to 30% who say “most”  or “all”  are corrupt and for judges and magistrates by 24 points to 28%.

“Among Basotho who sought key public services during the previous year: One fifth say they had to pay a bribe to get a government identity document (22%) and to avoid problems with the police (21%),” reads the report in pertinent part.

One in eight, representing 12% of the respondents, say they had to bribe police to receive assistance while 4% paid a bribe to obtain medical care.

“Compared to 2017, the proportion who had to pay a bribe increased for those seeking a government identity document (from 6% to 22%), trying to avoid a problem with the police (from 16% to 21%) and requesting police assistance (from 7% to 12%),” report further paints a gloomy picture.

Of the surveyed populace 21% indicated that there has been a “decrease” somewhat or “a lot”, and 16% believes that corruption rate stayed the same and the 61% said it has increased somewhat a lot.

The respondents in the poll perceived corruption in key institutions and leadership groups, and the police lead the pack with at 59%, civil servants following at 49%, sentiments around members of parliament (MPs) are also at 49%, tax officials 30%, office of the Prime Minister 30%, business executives 29%, judges and magistrates 28%, traditional leaders 24%, urban/community councilors 24%, Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offenses (DCEO) 13%, religious leaders 13%, while the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have 11% responses  who perceive them as corrupt.

Despite awareness within police leadership of bribery incidents, prosecutions remain few and far between. Also, there appears to be a lack of a coherent strategy to effectively tackle this persistent issue.