Young and poor? You are probably fuelling corruption

Public trust in government services and at NGOs a concern

11 July 2019 - 08:31 By timeslive
Bribery erodes public confidence
Bribery erodes public confidence
Image: 123RF/Thodonal

Across Africa, more than 25% of people who accessed public services such as health care and education paid a bribe in the previous year, which is the equivalent of about 130 million people.

This is according to the Global Corruption Barometer – Africa, released on African Anti-Corruption Day by Transparency International in partnership with Afrobarometer.

The profile of people paying bribes varies according to circumstance and vulnerability, the report states.

Overall, men are slightly more likely to pay a bribe than women.

The poorest are twice as likely to pay a bribe as the richest people.

It is also young people aged 18-34 who are more inclined to pay a bribe than people aged 55 and over.

Domestically, the report reveals that 64% of South Africans surveyed think that corruption increased in the previous 12 months. The survey was conducted between end July and September 2018.

Of the 47,000 citizens surveyed in 35 African countries, more than half believe corruption is getting worse in their country, while 59% think their government is doing badly at tackling corruption. In SA, a staggering 70% believe that the government is not doing enough to tackle corruption.

Overall, the police service is considered the most corrupt institution, with a global average of 47% of people believing that most or all police are corrupt; in SA, this figure rises to 49%.

As in the 2015 edition of the GCB for Africa, the police consistently exhibit the highest bribery rate across the continent. In SA 19% of the respondents using police services reported having paid a bribe to the police, up from 3% recorded in 2015.

South Africans also think that local government officials are highly corrupt (45%), followed by government officials and MPs, both at 44%. In addition, 37% believe that most or all business executives are corrupt.

Although those South Africans surveyed generally think that NGOs and religious leaders are less corrupt, the barometer states: "It is worth noting that 30% of South Africans surveyed were concerned about corruption in the NGO sector."

On a positive note, 57% of South Africans surveyed believe that ordinary people can make a difference in the fight against corruption.

David Lewis, executive director of Corruption Watch, commented: “While the surveys were undertaken too early to constitute a definitive public judgment on the performance of the Ramaphosa administration, it is clear that the South Africans surveyed, like their counterparts in the rest of the continent, believe that their governments are not doing enough to combat corruption.

“Indeed, they believe that their public institutions, including key oversight bodies like Parliament and the law enforcement agencies, notably the police, are among the most corrupt. Impunity will rule unless these institutions are cleaned.”

The report includes recommendations for African and international governments to step up their anti-corruption initiatives. These include:

• Investigate, prosecute and sanction all reported cases of corruption in public and private sectors including allegations of bribery of foreign government officials by developed country multinational corporations;

• Develop minimum standards and guidelines for ethical procurement practices throughout the continent;

• Adopt open contracting practices to ensure transparency;

• Create mechanisms for citizens to report corruption and strengthen whistleblower protection to ensure that people can report without fear of reprisal;

• Enable media and civil society to hold governments accountable;

• Support political party funding transparency; and

• Allow cross border co-operation to combat corruption.

The report also urges business leaders and company boards, including multinational companies operating in Africa, to implement the highest international anti-corruption and anti-money laundering standards.