Johannesburg - South Africa continued its slide down the international rankings of perceived corruption but had managed to slow down the pace of its decline as the public were more vocal about corruption, Corruption Watch said yesterday.
“SA’s stable index scores can be attributed to the level of outrage expressed by the public in the form of service delivery protests and eagerness to report corruption to independent civil society-based organisations like Corruption Watch,” the organisation said. “The perceptions are also indicative of a public that has become intolerant of the abuse of public resources and is losing trust in political, public and business leadership.”
The Corruption Perceptions Index compiled by Transparency International revealed yesterday that South Africa fell to joint 72nd out of 177 countries this year from 69th last year.
A country’s score indicates the perceived level of corruption in its public sector on a scale of zero to 100, where zero means the public sector is perceived as totally corrupt. The rank indicates a country’s position relative to other countries surveyed for the index.
South Africa scored 42 points in 2013, below the minimum acceptable score of 50 and down from 43 last year.
The report said 90 percent of African states and two-thirds of all countries scored below 50, indicating a “serious, worldwide corruption problem”.
The index ranks countries by the public’s perception of public sector corruption and is the most widely used indicator of official graft globally.
It made use of data from reputable organisations such the African Development Bank and the World Bank through the use of 13 surveys to compile the report.
South Africa was on a par with countries such as Brazil and Serbia, but scored lower than other African countries such as Botswana and Rwanda.
Somalia, North Korea and Afghanistan were the nations perceived to be most corrupt, scoring 8 points.
Corruption Watch executive director David Lewis said corruption had negative impacts on the country’s international image and also on sentiment among citizens.
“Over the last couple of years the levels of corruption have increased dramatically, but if you wanted to be optimistic you could say it’s the first time the perception of corruption seems to be stabilising,” he said.
Lewis said the direct costs of corruption were the money lost to it, including impacts on investment. The indirect impacts were the decline in trust of leaders and a general acceptance of the situation as it is.
“One of the biggest drivers of corruption is the poorly managed procurement system,” he said.
He said that apathy among citizens was a danger because “once people accept corruption then nothing can be done”.
South Africa is no stranger to corruption controversies in the public sector with scandals that have seen many public officials stand trial for crimes related to mismanagement and self-enrichment.
Renovations to President Jacob Zuma’s homestead in Nkandla to the tune of R208 million are also alleged to be marred by corruption leading the saga to be dubbed “Nkandlagate”. Corruption charges against Zuma were dropped by the National Prosecuting Authority.
In July Transparency International released the Global Corruption Barometer, revealing that 47 percent of South Africans had paid bribes over the past year against a global average of 27 percent.
Last month the auditor-general’s report for the year to March showed that there were “small improvements” in government spending patterns. Unauthorised expenditure totalled R30.8 billion, which was almost R3bn better than the previous year, auditor-general Terence Nombembe said. - Business Report