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Transparency International urges Senegalese government to heed ‘corruption wake-up call’

New study by independent anti-corruption watchdog group indicates public perceptions of high level of corruption in Senegal

In mid-May 2002, Forum Civil, the national chapter of Transparency International in Senegal, published the results of surveys on perceptions of corruption by the general public and the private sector. The findings have drawn a sharp reaction from the Senegalese government.

The President of Senegal, Abdoulaye Wade, who apparently heard about the study results via the press but clearly had not read the survey reports, made a scathing attack on the members of Forum Civil. He accused them of being "closet politicians who do not have the courage to accept their responsibilities". President Wade also called into question the credibility of the surveys and rejected their conclusions concerning the state of corruption in Senegal. However, only months ago in a speech to the Swiss private sector, President Wade acknowledged the existence of a disturbing level of corruption in Senegal and committed himself to combat it vigorously.

Transparency International (TI), the global non-governmental organisation engaged in the fight against corruption, is concerned with the policy about-face of the Senegalese authorities. "The reality on the ground in Senegal is quite different from the government's pronouncements", said Mame Adama Gueye, member of the TI Board of Directors and President of Forum Civil, TI's Senegalese national chapter. "The corruption wake-up call sent by Forum Civil via the publication of this report is even more justified given that since President Wade's election in March 2000, no concrete measures have been adopted to fight corruption in Senegal".

This defensive reaction on the part of the Senegalese President is surprising given the President's many efforts to tempt foreign investors and the commitment to good governance made by African governments, including Senegal, under the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).

TI Senegal's new surveys were carried out by the polling company ORGATECH, selected for this task through a competitive bidding process. The two surveys, conducted in spring 2001, polled samples of 1,227 individuals and 369 enterprises. Such surveys are diagnostic tools, intended to lay the groundwork for national strategies and action plans to combat corruption. Similar surveys have also been conducted in Madagascar and Morocco under the sponsorship of TI.

The conclusions drawn from these surveys generally confirmed already known corruption trends in Senegal:

  • First: Close to 90% of the sample survey acknowledged that corruption is widespread in Senegal. It appears mainly in the public sector and among politicians, and is facilitated by the relative weakness of the management of public resources.
  • Second: Those surveyed declared that corruption has a high cost both for Senegalese enterprises and for society in general. Forty percent of company executives consider that bribery is necessary to obtain a public contract. A majority of the persons polled believe that vote-buying is a common practice in Senegal and that access to certain public services is often conditional upon secret "grease payments".

Overall, the survey results indicate a very disturbing state of corruption in Senegal and its negative impact on economic and social development. They are a wake-up call to which the Senegalese government should pay serious attention.

Other surveys corroborate TI Senegal's findings. A year ago, a survey sponsored by the European Union in Benin and Niger as well as Senegal, and carried out by a multidisciplinary international team comprising anthropologists, sociologists and legal experts, came to the same conclusions concerning the state of corruption and its manifestations in Senegal. This analysis of the level of corruption is also reflected in the deteriorating ranking of Senegal over the last years in the annual Corruption Perceptions Index published by TI.

In addition, a household survey carried out under the Senegal Poverty Assessment as part of the preparation of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) revealed that 94.5% of those surveyed believed that poverty is linked to corruption. This paper is to serve as the framework for development policies in Senegal for the next fifteen years, and was adopted by the Senegalese government during a meeting of the Council of Ministers. This array of converging conclusions from multiple and diverse sources concerning the worrying corruption climate in Senegal gives credit to the results of the surveys published by Forum Civil. Together, they lay the groundwork for specific initiatives by the Government to combat this major obstacle to national development.

TI takes note of the reaction of the Senegalese authorities and the threats made to its national chapter by certain government agencies. TI recommends calm and urges the Senegalese government to give greater and more consistent attention to the fight against corruption, a precondition to any efforts to promote good governance. TI reaffirms its support for, and solidarity with, Forum Civil, and will closely monitor developments in Senegal before deciding together with its international partners how to respond.

For more information about Forum Civil and the full survey results, please see: www.forumcivil.sn.


For any press enquiries please contact

Berlin
Jana Kotalik/Sarah Tyler
Tel: +49-30-3438 2019
Fax: +49-30-3470 3912
Email: press@transparency.org

Senegal
Maitre Mame Adama Gueye
Tel: +221 849 28 00
Email: bg@sentoo.sn

Forum Civil, Section sénégalaise de TI:
Email: forumcivil@sentoo.sn