In the Balance


Erika Franz

Publication Date

Winter 2012






Toa kitu kidogo‖ or ―give a little something‖ is often heard in East Africa, where bribes are commonplace. From a traffic stop to picking up a package at the customs window in the post office, individuals can expect to add on a few shillings or francs for the ―cost of doing business.‖ But corruption has far darker consequences; it erodes the social fabric of a society, stifling its opportunities for growth, dissolving faith in the government, and preventing substantive rule of law and good governance. Corruption, defined broadly, conveys a lack of accountability for government decisions, consequences for illegal actions, or a fair justice system. Through various anti-corruption measures, countries struggle in their own fight against the negative consequences of corruption. This paper will examine the definition and measurements of corruption, the problem of corruption in the context of three East African nations (Kenya, the United Republic of Tanzania, and Rwanda), the anti-corruption techniques utilized in each country, and if those techniques have been effective. Each of the three countries has adopted various pieces of anti-corruption legislation and, to various degrees of effectiveness, implemented the laws. But corruption remains a significant barrier to development and comes with significant economic and social costs. While the focus of this paper will be the adequacy of the legal and administrative measures against corruption, it must be recognized that corruption cannot be fought on a purely legal level. A country‘s history, political establishment, civil society, and economic inequalities are all factors in the breadth and depth of corruption and the effects on society. There is no exact formula to eliminate corruption, but rather it is specific to each country and requires a holistic approach.

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