Somalia Ranked Number 1 in Global Corruption

Recently Somalia was ranked the worst in the Corruption Preceptions Index appearing in the unenviable position of country no. 180 out of 180 countries. This index is produced by Transparency International which is the global civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption.

Who are the top 5 corrupt countries? They are – Somalia, Myanmar, Iraq, Haiti and Afghanistan in that order. They all share the the status of countries that have been ravaged by war or ruled by a junta and survive on handouts from donor countries although Iraq possesses the largest oil reserve deposits in the world.

How were the East African Countries ranked? Somalia (180), Sudan (173), Burundi (158), Kenya (147), Ethiopia, Eritrea and Uganda (126) with the best East African slot shared by Tanzania, Ruwanda and Djibouti (102).

Who are the 5 least corrupted countries? Three countries shared the number 1 position – Denmark, New Zealand and Sweden followed by Singapore and Finland.

This index was started in 2001. How was Somalia ranked since that time? Somalia started appeared from 2005 and was ranked: 2005 (144 out of 158), 2006 (Not ranked), 2007 (179 out of 179) and 2008 (180 out of 180 countries).

The index and the accompanying notes did not of course indicate the sources of their ranking as understandably this will produce howls, rages and what not.

But all Somalis know quite well that corruption is the number one occupation of politicians.

Both in Somaliland and Puntland contracts will not go through unless a cut of 5-10% goes to one of the key ministers. In one of this two entities there is a minister called Mr 5%!

The TFG is a corruption elephant. While president Yusuf is very well known as a man who does not siphon off money and other government assets, he reportedly buys influence among parliamentarians and groups to obtain their support. Ex president Qasim has amassed wealth from government coffers and also bought support. One of the major fall offs between Yusuf and ex Prime Minster Geedi was the disappearance of a USD32m grant from Saudi Arabia. 

The two most corrupt entities in Somalia are the members of parliament and the UNO. While not spending one hour on key parliamentary issues, the parliamentarians have been holding frequent vote of confidence sessions for every government since 2005 and members will change positions by the hour depending on whom they met last and the size of the envelope passed under the table. The UNO has registered over 1,000 local NGOs across Somalia most of which are fronts by people with UNO connections set up for the sole purpose of defeating any audit trail for the millions of dollars granted to Somalia.

The newest rage is now forced corruption. Call it ransom for hijacked ships off Puntland and the Gulf of Aden or payouts to Islamic outfits around Mogadishu. The recent closure of the airport in the capital and Alshabab’s recent warnings to Care International and other charity organizations fits into this category.

Oil exploration companies, nuclear waste dumping organizations and even getting yourself appointed as an ambassador all get accomplished with shady deals. The two or three private airlines operating inside Somalia are notorious for arranging huge payouts to the prime minister and Haj minister of the day to be granted the lucrative Haj Pilgrim flights.   

Even the Somali media has a large stake in the corruption pie. The BBC uses free lancers across Somalia who provide pro Islamic Courts propaganda in their daily dispatches reportedly with the blessing of the BBC Somali section chief. Puntland and Somaliland media generate programmes that favour these entities and are anti-Islamists and pro-Ethiopian. HornAfric and Radio Shabelle sound like the mouth pieces of the opposition. Which brings home the fact that the Somalia media is one of the high profile corruption spinners.

A difficult web to untangle? It sure is. And it maybe sometime before we can see an improvement in Somalia’s ranking in the Corruption Preceptions Index.