Abidjan – Ivory Coast’s new good governance ministry said on Tuesday it had dispatched anti-corruption squads to probe public services including the police, as it seeks to ease the scourge of graft in the country.
Police are under particular scrutiny for taking bribes from food vendors on the roads of Ivory Coast, which the minister, Zoro Epiphane Ballo, said increased the price of consumer goods, a common complaint among Ivorians.
The squads are sent out to try to catch corrupt public service officials red-handed, or collect witness statements.
Ballo said the police had been targeted by such squads – without going into specifics – as had the sector that tests vehicles for their roadworthiness.
The results of their investigations have already been transferred to authorities.
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“The message is: beware of (committing) fraud, beware of racketeering, the state sees you,” said Ballo, head of the Ministry for the Promotion of Good Governance, Capacity Building and the Fight Against Corruption, created in April.
According to Transparency International, the world’s leading non-governmental organisation fighting corruption, Ivory Coast has improved its performance since 2013 and is ranked 104th out of 180 countries in its corruption perceptions index.
Still, Ballo said corruption remained “an important challenge for good governance, sustainable growth, peace and development”.
Probes are still ongoing in the education, health and justice sectors, he added.
In a 2017 survey by Afrobarometer, a pan-African institution researching public attitudes towards issues like governance, one in two Ivorians said they paid bribes to police officers to avoid problems.
One in three paid government officials to obtain documents, and two-thirds considered reporting corruption dangerous because of the risk of reprisals.
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