Police, NEC, Legislature Named ‘Most Corrupt Institutions’

Panelists Marc N. Kollie, and Madam Lisa Kindervater Sieh at yesterday's launch of the Afrobarometer Round 7 Survey

-Liberia’s Afrobarometer Reveals

A survey conducted by Afrobarometer–Liberia through the Khana Group (TKG) has named the Liberia National Police (LNP), the National Elections Commission (NEC) and members of the Legislature as perceived to be among the most  corrupt government institutions.

625 percent say the LNP is the most corrupt, followed by both the NEC and the House of Representatives with 49% respectively and the Senate with 41%.

The survey sought to access the understanding of citizens on corruption as well as their perception. The actual experiences of 41% of the people surveyed think judges/magistrates are corrupt; 40% of respondents think President George Weah is corrupt; 39% think local government officials are corrupt, and 28% think traditional leaders are corrupt, while 18% think religious leaders are corrupt.

Also, some of respondents said President Weah is the most trusted politician. The survey was presented by Marvin Samuel, Research Coordinator of the Khana Group at a resort in Monrovia on Wednesday, November 21.

The findings from the Afrobarometer Round 7 survey were collected between June 19 to July 16, 2018 with 1,200 adult citizens across the country. Additionally, almost half of Liberians interviewed perceived an increase in corruption over the past year.

Although half of Liberians think that ordinary citizens can make a difference in fighting corruption, six in 10 say that people risk retaliation if they report incidents of corruption. Two-thirds also say it is not likely that authorities will take action if they report corrupt behavior.

Liberia’s score on the Corruption Perceptions Index reported by Transparency International dropped from 37 out of 100 in 2016 to 31 in 2017.

According to the key findings of the study, among respondents who had contact with relevant public services during the previous year, about half say they paid a bribe at least once to get police assistance (55%) or household services (48%). About four in 10 paid a bribe at least once to get medical care (43%), to get public school services (40%), or to avoid problems with the police (37%).

Also, although half of Liberians (52%) think that ordinary citizens can make a difference in fighting corruption, six in 10 (61%) say that people risk retaliation if they report incidents of corruption; Two-thirds (67%) say it is “not very likely” or “not at all likely” that authorities will take action if they report corrupt behavior.

Large majorities of Liberians say the rich are more likely than ordinary persons to get away with paying a bribe or using personal connections to avoid taxes (83%), avoid going to court  (89%), or register lands that are not theirs.

Meanwhile, the new Afrobarometer survey showed that most Liberians describe their country as a democracy, and prefer democracy over any other political system, but are dissatisfied with the way their democracy is working and continues to rise.

Though a large majority of Liberians endorse regular, open, and honest elections, fewer support multiparty competition.

The survey also revealed an increased demand for accountable governance, compared to 2015. But in spite of their support for democracy, relatively few Liberians backed two freedoms generally considered central to democratic government: freedom of association and freedom of the media. Two-thirds of citizens support government censorship of the media and restrictions on freedom of association.

These findings are being released six months after Liberia’s presidential and legislative elections, which were widely considered a success and ushered in the country’s first peaceful transition of power in 73 years.

According to the key findings, six in 10 Liberians (61%) described the country as “a full democracy” or “a democracy with minor problems.”

However, the same proportion (61%) say they are “not very satisfied” or “not at all satisfied” with the way democracy is working in the country, a drastic increase from 38% in 2012. A large majority of Liberians prefer democracy (70%), and reject alternatives to democratic rule – one-man rule (88%), one-party rule (77%), and military rule (73%).

Eight in 10 Liberians (84%) want leaders elected through the ballot; regular, open, and honest elections.” But support for multiparty competition is weaker (58%).

Six in 10 Liberians (62%) “agree” or “strongly agree” that it’s more important for the government to be accountable to its citizens than to get things done quickly. This represents an increase from 53% in 2015.

Despite their support for democracy, two-thirds of Liberians say the government should be able to ban any organization that goes against its policies (66%) and should have the right to prevent the media from publishing things it considers harmful to society (67%).

Between 2012 and 2018, popular support for these freedoms dwindled steadily by 19 percentage points (from 52% to 33%) for freedom of association and by 12 percentage points (from 44% to 32%) for a free press.

The two panelists were Marc N. Kollie, Chief Investigator at the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), and Madam Lisa Kindervater Sieh, a Gender Specialist and Technical Advisor at Oxfam in Liberia.

Madam Sieh said most electorates are not driven by parties’ platforms, but individuals, and that public trust is a political capital, and there is no need for trucking voters.

Mr. Kollie said the study is good except that the perception of corruption prevails. He argued that perception is a slippery slope, and therefore stressed that the tenured positions’ bills should be carefully reviewed by the Legislature, taking into consideration the LACC, the General Auditing Commission (GAC) and the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU).

Afrobarometer is a pan-African, non-partisan research network that conducts public attitude surveys on democracy, governance, economic conditions, and related issues in Africa. Six rounds of surveys were conducted in up to 37 Africans countries between 1999 and 2015, but the surveys have been completed in 2018. Afrobarometer conducts face-to-face interviews in the language of the respondent’s choice with nationally representative samples.

The Afrobarometer team in Liberia, led by The Khana Group, interviewed 1,200 adult Liberians in June 2018. A sample of this size yields country-level results with a margin of error of +/-3 percentage points at a 95% confidence level. Previous surveys have been conducted in Liberia in 2008, 2012, and 2015.

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