Corruption in public institutions in Zambia from 1991 to 2008: A case study of the Department of Immigration, Ministry of Home Affairs
Lishomwa, Mwanamwalye Japhet
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The study problem was that there was a recurrent problem of officers in the Department of Immigration being suspended from work, dismissed, and sometimes facing other disciplinary actions for reasons which are mainly corruption-related, particularly bribery. This phenomenon persists despite the fact that many remedial efforts have been implemented to mitigate the incidence of corruption in the institution. The current (Mwanawasa) government has particularly adopted a tough stance towards issues of corruption, although mostly through mere public pronouncements not cemented by actions. Equally, many civil society organisations have used various platforms and approaches to advocate against corruption but the problem has remained resilient and persistent in public institutions, particularly the Immigration Department.The general objective of this study was to establish the main factors that contribute to corruption in the bureaucracy in general and in particular, among immigration officers in Zambia. To achieve that objective, the methodology involved a case study design, focusing on the Immigration Department (ID). Four immigration stations were selected for investigation; Immigration Headquarters, Lusaka International Airport (LIA), Chirundu and Kasumbalesa boarder controls. The sample size was 167 respondents consisting of 67 immigration officials selected using stratified random sampling, and 100 members of the public (both Zambians and foreigners) selected using the simple random sampling method. Key informants were drawn from the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), Transparency International Zambia (TIZ), Immigration Headquarters, Lusaka Regional Immigration Office and some selected immigrants in Zambia. Both primary and secondary sources of data were employed. Data was analysed manually and using the Statistical Packages for the Social Sciences (SPSS) techniques.The study established that the principal cause of corruption in the ID is poor salaries and conditions of service for immigration staff From the 167 respondents interviewed, 120 attributed corruption in the institution to poor remuneration. In this regard, the investigation also revealed that 82% of the 67 immigration officials interviewed received monthly take-home salaries of less than K 1 million each. Other findings were that corruption in the ID was also due to the bureaucratic system of operation which makes cHents desperate for services in the long-run. It was also established that the operation of immigration consultants/agents breeds corruption in the organisation. These agents operate as middle-men between immigration staff and their clientele. Another source of corruption discovered, especially at the boarders, is that immigration officers are understaffed leading to overwhelming workloads. This creates unnecessary congestions which subsequently lead to corruption. The centralization of the permit-issuance exercise at immigration headquarters was also found to be a contributor to corruption in the Immigration Department (ID). Other causes established in the findings include: ill-skilled and incompetent immigration officers; weak law-enforcement by watch-dog institutions; sheer greed on the part of officers; unclear policies and procedures at the ID, and; the culture among the members of the public, especially foreigners, to give bribes to public officers (even needlessly).The study findings also indicate that bribery is the most common form of corruption in the ID. Of the 100 members of the public, 63% held that view. As for the immigration respondents, 62% of them identified bribery as the most prevalent in their institution. Other findings from the members of the public were as follows: 24% rated corruption in the ID as "very high", 35% rated it as "high", 32% put it at "average", with 5% seeing it as "low", while only 4% classified it as "very low". On the time it takes to acquire a permit from the ID, the members of the public stated the following: 40% said it took 1-2 months; 41% put it at 2-6 months; 9% said it was 6months - lyear, while 5% said it lasted up to lyear or more. On the highest academic qualifications of immigration officers covered by the study, 29.85% had only school certificates; 37.31% had college certificates; 26.86% were in possession of diplomas; 5.97% were university graduates and none had a post-graduate degree.