Robert Mugabe bribery comment offends Nigeria

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe delivers his speech during celebrations to mark his 90th birthday in Marondera, 23 February 2014

Robert Mugabe reportedly made the comments in March

Nigeria has summoned Zimbabwe’s envoy over remarks President Robert Mugabe made about corruption, state media say.

Mr Mugabe reportedly said last month that Zimbabweans were becoming “like Nigeria” when it came to corruption.

Nigeria summoned Zimbabwe’s diplomat on Thursday, calling Mr Mugabe’s comments “vitriolic and denigrating”, Nigeria’s state news agency said.

In its 2013 index, Transparency International listed Zimbabwe as more corrupt than Nigeria.

The list released by the Berlin-based organisation placed Nigeria as 144th out of 175 countries on its Corruption Perceptions Index 2013, while Zimbabwe was ranked 157th.

Mr Mugabe criticised corruption in Zimbabwe in March, asking: “Are we now like Nigeria where you have to reach into your pocket to get anything done?”

On Thursday, Nigeria’s foreign ministry summoned Zimbabwean envoy Stanley Kunjeku, lodging “the strongest protest” against the statement, News Agency of Nigeria said.

“Not only does it not reflect the reality in our country, but to come from a sitting president of a brotherly country is most unkind and very dishonourable,” the ministry added.

A 2013 survey by Transparency International found that one person in four had paid a bribe to a public body over the last year, with the poor record of some African nations on bribery standing out.

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