The latest Transparency International Corruptions (CPI) Perceptions Index shows that South Africa’s fight against corruption has stagnated for the past 10 years.
It also shows that South Africa along with several other countries, has reached a virtual standstill in efforts to fight corruption.
Programme Co-ordinator of the Democracy Development Programme, Brian Mhlongo says until action is taken against those found guilty of corruption, the country may even regress.
Mhlongo says, “It’s quite expected, if you look at the amount of corruption in the public eye in the past ten years. I think institutions’ response to corruption has not been sufficient to warrant that we move up the index. Even the change of presidency back in 2018 as well as some of the reforms that have been instituted that are meant to carry out mechanisms to stop corruption haven’t yielded results that we would like them too.”
The CPI, the leading global indicator of public sector corruption, ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption on a scale of zero (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean).
In 2012, South Africa scored 43, ranking 69 out of 176 countries that were assessed that year. Fast forward to 2021, and the country sits at a dismal 44, the same as last year, dropping one place in rank to 70 out of the now 180 countries.
The highest score over the past decade was 45 on the 2016 CPI, while the lowest score was 42 on the 2013 index.
This year’s analysis shows that 86% of countries have made little to no progress in the last 10 years, a concerning trend. The CPI global average remains unchanged at 43 for the tenth year in a row, and two-thirds of countries score below 50.
South Africa sits alongside Jamaica and Tunisia on the index, and comes in at number eight on the regional table of Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries (below). The average score for SSA countries is 33, one point higher than last year, demonstrating again that there have been no significant changes in addressing the high levels of corruption in the region.
Once again Somalia (13) and South Sudan (11) fall at the bottom of both the SSA and the global index, which also includes Syria at 13. While countries like the Seychelles may have gained on the SSA table, these positive changes are eclipsed by the region’s poor performance overall, with 44 of the 49 countries still scoring below 50.
Executive Director of Corruption Watch, Karam Singh says, “It is extremely disheartening to find ourselves, year after year, in the same position on the CPI, with marginal shifts up or down. The poor perceptions of how South Africa is faring in its efforts to truly tackle and dismantle the systems that enable corruption are perhaps to be expected, when one considers the staggering levels of corruption we have witnessed,”
“As a civil society organisation working relentlessly to expose the gaps that enable corruption, and find solutions for creating a society free from this scourge, we can only hope that recent developments to bring corruption to the fore in the country will result in swift and effective prosecutions, and a restoration of public confidence in the political will to end impunity and lack of accountability,” he continued.
Senior researcher at the advocacy body Corruption Watch says the report is nothing to be celebrated and questions what South Africa has achieved in holding people accountable.
VIDEO: Ncala unpacks the Transparency International’s 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index: