South African leaders are failing the country in the fight against corruption.
This was revealed in the sixth edition of the Corruption Watch Analysis of Corruption Trends (ACT) report and podcast, released on Wednesday.
The report unpacked ways in which dishonesty undermines and erodes fundamental human rights.
Corruption Watch said the 1 037 whistleblower reports, received between January and June 2022, showed how public and private sector persistently obstruct access to basic human rights.
“This emphasises that corruption is not a victimless crime, but has serious consequences for many people in the country.”
“Along with the fall-out from the loss of billions of rands to corruption, inadequate protection for whistleblowers and the absence of accountability for perpetrators continue to be significant threats to democracy and success in dismantling networks of corruption and patronage,” Corruption Watch said.
Types of Corruption
The report revealed that the most prevalent types of reports that emerged across board from this period are fraud – amounting to 35%, abuse of authority including victimisation of whistleblowers and maladministration – both at 17%, bribery and extortion (including sextortion) – 16%, and procurement irregularities – which count for 15%.
Provinces with Highest Corruption
The four provinces with the highest number of reports, accounting for two-thirds of all reports received during the period under review, are Gauteng (43%), Western Cape (9%), and KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo at 8% apiece.
Lack of leadership
Melusi Ncala, senior researcher at Corruption Watch and author of the report said leaders are to blame for the levels of corruption see in the country.
“The appalling state of our towns, cities and millions of people living in abject poverty is owed to an incompetent leadership that has underperformed in addressing rampant corruption that is a central theme in human rights abuses.”
“Think of the decrepit state of our public infrastructure which is poorly maintained or collapsing, the scores of people who find themselves homeless and landless, or those waiting at clinics for vital medication and treatment that is simply not available.
‘These examples are just a drop in the ocean, when one considers the extent to which our society, the most unequal in the world, continues to fail its people, due to corruption, incompetence, and poor leadership in government and businesses,” he added.
Public and Private Sector
A holistic view of the data, with both the public and private sector in mind, showed that 62% of complaints classified as corruption are in the public sector, while 25% are in the private sector.
A breakdown of these figures by focus area reveals that the most common corruption types in the private sector are fraud (56%) and maladministration (25%), mostly compliance-related.
Corruption trends in the public sector relate to abuse of authority, bribery and extortion, and procurement and employment irregularities.
Corruption Watch said the majority of public sector complaints relate to corruption at national government level (24%), followed by local government at 23%, and provincial government at 17%.
“In this regard, the top implicated municipalities are City of Johannesburg (36%), eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality (27%), City of Tshwane (21%), and Ekurhuleni (16%).”
Corruption Watch said it was no surprise that policing continues to feature prominently.
“Corruption Watch has over the years drawn attention to the corruption problems in this sector. Our reports implicate the national South African Police Service, local police, and private security.”
“Our reports implicate the national South African Police Service, local police, and private security. Despite the sustained focus on the sector by multiple civil society and lobby groups, and the lack of public trust in being able to receive adequate services and protection, little seems to have shifted,” it added.
Corruption Free Society
Ncala said South Africa can still dream of building a corrupt-free society.
“It is easy to become despondent as we report, year after year, how the brave people of this country continue to blow the whistle and stand up against the corrupt who are eroding our future, while the powerful remain free and unaccountable.
“However, we can’t afford that kind of sentiment, especially when it is precisely their bravery and courage that should be spurring us on to greater, more urgent, and more radical action,” added Ncala.