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Last Updated: Saturday, 11 October, 2003, 14:16 GMT 15:16 UK
Africa ponders corruption report
This week's report by the global corruption watchdog Transparency International, in which most African countries feature in the bottom half of the table, has generated widespread comment across the continent.

The publication of the report coincided, poignantly, with the opening in Nigeria of an unprecedented public hearing into corruption allegations against two senators launched by Federal Capital Territory Minister Nasir el-Rufai.

No country gets 10 out of 10
Cameroon Tribune

In an interview with The Vanguard newspaper, Mr el-Rufai details his allegations and says ordinary Nigerians are "tired of hypocrisy and corruption of some of our elite".

But a statement from the vice-president's office published in the same paper dismissed the minister's allegations as "malicious and untrue".

The paper interviews the chairman of the international watchdog, Peter Eigen, who says it might take generations before corruption is rooted out.

Tarnished image

The report said corruption in Nigeria remained pervasive, and the failure of Africa's most populous country to improve its ranking was "disappointing", Mr Eigen said.

However, Mr Eigen praised what he called President Olusegun Obasanjo's "superhuman" achievements.

"To change a system like that takes tremendous efforts," Mr Eigen said, "and I have a feeling that Obasanjo has done nearly a superhuman job in addressing this."

But other Nigerian Government officials dismissed the report, saying it was nothing to worry about.

The reported corruption will play a role in weighing down the economy by undermining investor confidence
Zimbabwe's Financial Gazette

One presidential aide said the government had already had some success in rooting out corruption, and Nigeria's perception as a corrupt country would begin to recede by 2005.

Another Nigerian daily, This Day, worries that the report will damage the country's image abroad, which, it says, foreign investors would find "scaring".

Harare's Financial Gazette shares similar concerns about Zimbabwe's image in the Transparency International report.

The country's ranking in 106th place "bodes ill for Zimbabwe", the paper says.

"The reported corruption will play a role in weighing down the economy by undermining investor confidence," it predicts, "as the country, smarting from under-investment, will find it difficult to whip up foreign investor enthusiasm."

No room for complacency

An editorial in Kenya's Daily Nation says although the current government - which came into power partly on its pledges to end corruption - is not to blame for the country's 122 ranking on the transparency list, there is no room for "feeling good", because, it says, we are yet to see the resolve in reassuring, practical proportions."

Kenya is in the throes of its own investigation into the country's judicial system.

According to a report published by a committee set up by Chief Justice Evans Gichery, corruption is widespread among many of Kenya's judges and magistrates.

The investigation was launched in response to "a public outcry that both justice and injustice were on sale at our law courts", the Daily Nation says.

But the paper has its doubts about the committee's transparency.

The corruption report must not only be seen as a spear with which to attack the judiciary, but as a means of reforming the organs of administration of justice generally
Kenya's Standard

"By constituting a probe team made up of some of those persons to be investigated, the Chief justice and his appointees had already predetermined the outcome of the exercise by declaring themselves innocent and the rest of the judicial fraternity suspect."

The Kenya Times also launches a scathing attack on the judiciary.

"The gigantic reptiles in the judiciary have been contributing to the plunder of the country's economic and social resources as they make justice elusive to Kenyans who cannot afford to pay for it," the paper charges.

"This type of greediness does not even exist in the jungle of animals, and the chief justice should even go public on the names of the officers who have been behind this rot."

But Kenya's Standard warns against vindictiveness and says lessons must be learnt.

The corruption report "must not only be seen as a spear with which to attack the judiciary, but as a means of reforming the organs of administration of justice generally," the paper says.

The loss of confidence in the judiciary by the public... is an indictment of the entire judicial system. The little confidence which may still exist must be tendered and nurtured."

Action, not words

Zambia ranks 92nd on the Transparency list, which The Post calls "very saddening and embarrassing" for a country which has "declared itself a Christian nation".

The paper blames the government's failure to improve on its inadequate measures.

"There has been more talk about corruption than real action."

Cameroon's 124th ranking prompts the Herald newspaper in Yaounde to note that despite the government's campaigns, "the rate of corruption continues to rise".

"The fact remains that corruption is robust," the Cameroon Tribune concurs.

The paper harbours no illusion about any dramatic improvements.

"The fight against corruption appears as a long battle during which one must not lose heart," it says, but ends with the upbeat observation that "after all, no country gets 10 out of 10 in the Transparency charts."

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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