Corruption Watch has said its latest report of 2020 indicates a record 857 allegations of corruption in local government, the City of Johannesburg at the summit with 700 reports, while Ekurhuleni comes in at 354, City of Tshwane at 325, eThekwini with 166, and City of Cape Town at 125 reports. Photo: Facebook
Corruption Watch has said its latest report of 2020 indicates a record 857 allegations of corruption in local government, the City of Johannesburg at the summit with 700 reports, while Ekurhuleni comes in at 354, City of Tshwane at 325, eThekwini with 166, and City of Cape Town at 125 reports. Photo: Facebook

Joburg streets ahead when it comes to municipal corruption trends, whistle-blowers show

By Banele Ginindza Time of article published Aug 20, 2021

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CIVIC organisation Corruption Watch has said its latest report of 2020 indicates a record 857 allegations of corruption in local government, the City of Johannesburg at the summit with 700 reports, while Ekurhuleni comes in at 354, City of Tshwane at 325, eThekwini with 166, and City of Cape Town at 125 reports.

There was also a 50 percent increase in cases stemming from the Eastern Cape, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape, compared to the previous year.

“Since our inception in 2012 to the end of 2020, Corruption Watch has received 33 000 whistle-blower reports. Of these, 5 094 complaints or 16 percent relate to corruption in local government, and more than 50 percent of these reports were gathered in the last four years.

In its latest report on corruption in municipalities, Corruption Watch said its whistle-blowers indicated that the most common forms of corruption at a local level were bribery, accounting for 28 percent, procurement irregularities, 24 percent, employment irregularities, 11 percent, abuse of power, 9 percent, and embezzlement of funds constituting 8 percent.

“What is evident in the majority of corruption cases relating to local governance is that South Africa, broadly, has a leadership crisis,  said Melusi Ncala, Corruption Watch researcher and author of the report.

The peak occurred in 2020, when Corruption Watch received 16.8 percent of the 5 094 reports. This was a defining year for the country’s health sector because of the Covid-19 global crisis, the organisation said.

From the 5 094 whistle-blower cases relating to local government corruption, 41 percent of the corruption cases implicate municipalities in Gauteng, the country’s most densely populated province. The top contributors to the high volume of cases in Gauteng, as well as nationally, are City of Johannesburg, which counts for 16.5 percent of corruption cases, and City of Ekurhuleni and City of Tshwane that account for 8.3 percent and 7.6 percent respectively, the report said.

Analysis of Corruption Watch’s reports show that bribery was the most common form of corruption at a local level, followed by procurement and employment irregularities, abuse of power and embezzlement of funds.

“It is interesting to note that most corruption occurs within the office of the municipal manager, representing 34 percent of all reports received. The local/metro police are implicated in 30 percent of the reports, followed by housing and human settlements at 10 percent. These represent the top three hotspots for corruption in local government,” according to the report.

The most prevalent types of corruption taking place within the office of the municipal manager include irregularities in the procurement process, embezzlement of funds, and employment irregularities, all of which have a direct link to service delivery.

Reports also pointed to nepotism, bribery, and disregard for policies and laws, with implicated officials rarely being held accountable. There were several instances of companies billing double for services, such as in the City of Cape Town, or allegations of business syndicates with major influence over municipal processes.

This report gives credence to the Auditor-General of South Africa’s (Agsa) findings that the eight metropolitan municipalities, 44 district municipalities and estimated 200 local municipalities are in the main poorly managed. The latest estimated figure from Agsa for irregular expenditure is a staggering R32 billion.

In the office of the municipal manager, the most prevalent types of corruption reported include irregularities in the procurement process at 34 percent, embezzlement of funds 9 percent, and employment irregularities 8 percent.

In terms of the provision of adequate housing and related matters, the common forms of corruption are irregularities in the awarding of RDP houses at 45 percent, abuse of power 16 percent and fraud at 15 percent.

According to whistle-blowers, corruption has exacerbated the ubiquitous backlog problems experienced by those who have applied for subsidised housing.

“It is almost impossible to find a single municipality wherein applicants are not complaining about the long waiting lists or, in some instances, claiming that their names are moved further down the list because they are unwilling or unable to pay a bribe to an official,” Ncala said.

Between 2012 and 2020, Corruption Watch received 32 998 whistle-blower reports, of which 16 percent contain allegations of corruption within the local spheres of government. The majority of complaints stem from Gauteng at 41 percent, followed by KwaZulu-Natal 11 percent, with 8 percent of reports each coming from Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the North West.

The municipalities most implicated by whistle-blowers were the City of Johannesburg, which had 700 reports, Ekurhuleni at 354 reports, City of Tshwane 325 reports, eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality 166 reports, and the City of Cape Town 125 reports.

The most common forms of corruption at a local level are bribery 28 percent, procurement irregularities 24 percent, employment irregularities 11 percent, abuse of power 9 percent, and embezzlement of funds at 8 percent.

According to whistle-blowers, most corruption occurred within the office of the municipal manager at 34 percent, or related to local/metro police 30 percent, housing and human settlements 10 percent, transport 5 percent, and the office of the executive 5 percent.

In 2020, Corruption Watch received a record number of 857 whistle-blower allegations relating to corruption within local government.

“We also saw a 50 percent increase in cases stemming from the Eastern Cape, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape, compared to the previous year,” Ncala said.

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