Corruption Perceptions Index shows five-year decline for RSA

Corruption Perceptions Index shows five-year decline for RSA. Picture: File

Corruption Perceptions Index shows five-year decline for RSA. Picture: File

Published Jan 31, 2024


South Africa has continued to struggle with addressing public sector corruption for the fifth year in a row, as reported by the 2023 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI).

The CPI released yesterday, revealed that South Africa stood at 83 out of 180 countries, after it went from a score of 43 in the 2022 index, to 41 during the 2023 report.

This marks the country's fifth year of decline, despite celebrating 30 years of democracy.

As the 2024 General Elections draw closer, experts recommend that the country intensifies its efforts to combat corruption. The upcoming elections present a chance to launch campaigns aimed at political parties and their manifestos while also mobilising the public and civil society to hold the country's leaders accountable.

It is crucial to implement recommendations made during the Zondo Commission to strengthen systems and legislation while reducing opportunities for corruption.

The 2023 Index showed that corruption was continuing to thrive across the world, with South Africa being no exception.

The 29th edition of the CPI, released by Transparency International yesterday, is an annual snapshot where 180 countries and territories around the globe are ranked by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, scoring on a scale of 0, meaning highly corrupt to 100, for being very clean.

The index report states that more than two-thirds of countries across the globe are facing severe corruption problems. Many countries scored below 50 out of 100, which clearly indicates that they are struggling with corruption issues. The report also reveals that the majority of countries have either made no progress or experienced a decline in the last decade. Unfortunately, the global average has remained stagnant at only 43, which is a concerning situation.

The CPI uses 13 data sources to cover the manifestations of corruption within the public sector namely bribery, diversion of public funds, officials using their public for private gain without facing consequences, and the abilities of governments to contain corruption.

Additionally, it also looked at nepotistic appointments in civil service, state capture by narrow vested interests, and legal protection for people who report cases of bribery or corruption to name a few.

Countries such as Denmark, Finland, and New Zealand were ranked as the top three countries forging ahead with combating corruption coming in with scores of 90, 87, and 85 out of 100 respectively.

François Valérian, the Chair of Transparency International commented: “Corruption will continue to thrive until justice systems can punish wrongdoing and keep governments in check. When justice is bought or politically interfered with, it is the people that suffer. Leaders should fully invest in and guarantee the independence of institutions that uphold the law and tackle corruption. It is time to end impunity for corruption.”

Karam Singh, the executive director of Corruption Watch, said it was a massive frustration that after the Zondo Commission very few people had been brought to justice.

“There is an urgency to our problem of corruption, as citizens witness the unravelling of cities and infrastructure because of years of impunity and state capture.

“With elections looming in a few months, the need for accountable leaders of integrity could not be more critical,” said Singh.

“We need a new order, a new drive to remove corruption from our landscape,” Singh said.

Corruption Watch has called on the executive - through the upcoming State of the Nation Address and the Budget - to strengthen institutions and avail sufficient funding to institutions such as the NPA in order to ensure the structural and operational independence of the NPA.

This, Singh said, would be critical in ensuring the fight against corruption and future-proofing the system against future state capture. | Additional reporting by Sihle Mlambo

The Star

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