SA languishes behind other African countries in latest corruption index

29 January 2019 - 07:16 By Ernest Mabuza
South Africa ranked 78th worldwide and ninth in sub-Saharan Africa in the latest Corruption Perceptions Index that was released by Transparency International.
South Africa ranked 78th worldwide and ninth in sub-Saharan Africa in the latest Corruption Perceptions Index that was released by Transparency International.
Image: bakhtiarzein / 123RF Stock Photo

Corruption is getting worse in South Africa - at least according to the 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index, which was released on Monday.

South Africa remained in ninth place in sub-Saharan Africa, suggesting that perceptions of corruption in the country remained high.

The index is done by Transparency International and ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, according to experts and business people. It uses a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean.

This year the index found that more than two-thirds of countries scored below 50, with an average score of 43.

South Africa had a score of 43 in 2018, down from 45 in 2017.

Seychelles, with a score of 66, was ranked 28th worldwide and the highest in the region, followed by Botswana, Cape Verde, Rwanda, Namibia, Mauritius, São Tomé and Principe, and Senegal.

South Africa ranked 73rd of the 180 countries and territories surveyed.

Transparency International said sub-Saharan Africa was still the worst performing of all regions, adding that governments had failed to translate anti-corruption commitments into any real progress. 

“A region with stark political and socio-economic contrasts and long-standing challenges, many of its countries struggle with ineffective institutions and weak democratic values, which threaten anti-corruption efforts,” said Transparency International.

It said despite stagnation across the region, there were some promising political developments, particularly in Angola, Botswana, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.

“In South Africa, citizen engagement and various official inquiries into official abuses are positive steps, while new leadership in Angola provides hope for anti-corruption reforms.”

David Lewis, executive director of Corruption Watch, said the country’s experience of state capture was a textbook example of the relationship between corruption and the undermining of democracy.

“For example, we have seen how in order to loot public funds, the perpetrators have had to undermine those key pillars of democracy that are responsible for holding those in power to account,” said Lewis, adding that the undermining of parliament and the criminal justice system were key cases in point.

“On the other hand, we have also seen how institutions that reflect the strength of our democracy - such as civil society organisations, the media and the courts - have been critical features of the fightback against state capture,” said Lewis.

Corruption Watch said countries such as Seychelles and Botswana both had relatively well-functioning democratic and governance systems, which had contributed to their healthy positioning on the index.

It said South Africa had many of these attributes as well as an independent media and provision for civil society, yet there had been no improvement in the score.

“Once again, one would have to point to the persistent failure of our criminal justice institutions to impose consequences upon corrupt individuals,” said Corruption Watch.


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