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Press Release: TI and ISS Release Study on Corruption in South Africa
20 March 2005

Press Release: Press Release: TI and ISS Release Study on Corruption in South Africa

Sunday 20 March 2005

Released by:

  • Transparency-South Africa

  • Institute for Security Studies (Organised Crime & Corruption Programme)

  • Transparency International

Johannesburg and Berlin, 21 March 2005 - Transparency International (TI) and the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) have released one of the most comprehensive civil society assessments of corruption and efforts to combat it in South Africa to-date. The National Integrity Systems TI Country Study Report – South Africa 2005 (NIS study), was released a day before government, business and civil society convene in Pretoria for the 2nd National Anti-Corruption Summit. The summit, to be addressed by President Mbeki, is likely to set the agenda for combating corruption in South Africa in the years ahead.

According to Hassen Lorgat acting chairperson of Transparency South Africa (TSA), “We have chosen Human Rights Day to release this significant civil society contribution to the debate on corruption in South Africa. Corruption is a human rights issue, it undermines basic freedoms enshrined within the constitution, it perpetuates inequality and hurts the poor the most, particularly where corruption undermines service delivery and drowns out the voice of the countries majority in policy and decision making.

The NIS study`s findings indicate that the country has made tremendous progress in the ten short years since the end of corrupt apartheid-era rule. South Africa has developed an advanced framework of law, strategy and institutions with a mandate to combat corruption. The report notes the creation of new specialised anti-corruption institutions with a constitutional remit to support democracy. South Africa has developed a bold new piece of anti-corruption law in the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act, which complements existing legislation that promotes an open accountable democracy.

TSA`s Hassen Lorgat, noted, however, that “although political will to tackle corruption exists, the implementation of anti-corruption measures still presents a serious challenge.”

The report also stresses that corruption poses a major challenge at provincial and local government level, negatively affecting the capacity of the public sector to deliver services to the poor. According to the report, `at a national level, almost R2 billion was lost in 2003 to corruption in social welfare, [and] the labour ministry may have lost as much as R1 billion.` The study also states that corruption and fraud in the private sector may cost the economy as much as R50 billion.

Hassen Lorgat singled out some of the key reforms proposed by the study to deal with corruption in all sectors, including, “the need for civil society and the media to be supported in their oversight and monitoring functions and the necessity to see Parliament regain its role as ‘supreme oversight body` in the wake of the travelscam and the arms deal.”

Together with the implementation of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act, the report supports the proposal that the private funding of political parties be regulated, together with post-public sector employment. This also needs to be matched by the enforcement of disclosure provisions governing gifts to, and interests of, members of the public sector and parliament. Increased co-operation between anti-corruption agencies, together with enhanced capacity, are seen as key.

According to Hennie van Vuuren, Senior Researcher at the Institute for Security Studies and author of the the study, “the report suggests that the time might be ripe to revisit the debate around a single vs. multiple agency approach in combatting corruption – as a means of improving co-ordination amongst the countries many anti-corruption agencies. In the meantime however he stressed the need for improved co-ordination between agencies as a priority. He echoed recent calls from civil society that any attempt to merge the Scorpions with any other state law enforcement agency will be a major blow to anti-corruption efforts over the long term.

“The report also suggests that South Africa`s continued disparity in wealth may in fact be a contributing factor leading to corruption. A good approach here is using public awareness campaigns to gain greater citizen involvement The cross-sectoral National Anti-Corruption Forum should be spearheading thi”s.

van Vuuren also highlighted another recommendation of the the study, that while we look forward, SA may now be ready to look backward, and makes recommendations for investigating crimes of corruption under apartheid so that plundered wealth can be returned to the countries people. The last decade of apartheid rule, as the corrupt system was in terminal decline, provided the perfect environment for large-scale corruption. The lack of transparency, sanctions busting and secret defence and oil funds are conduits for grand corruption the world over. While this should not detract from the tasks ahead, anti-corruption agencies should investigate the reclamation of such stolen assets .”

According to TI Executive Director for the Africa region, Muzong Kodi, “since the development of the NIS Country Study methodology in 2000, TI has been engaged in more than 60 country studies including a dozen countries on the African continent”` Kodi went on to say he felt the South African experience was instructive for other nations, both in its successes and short-comings. Kodi also called on the country to ensure that the speedy ratification of the African Union Convention on Combating Corruption is kept on the AU agenda.

The NIS studies analyse countries using the TI National Integrity System model, which posits that a successful approach to fighting and preventing corruption rests on a system of checks and balances in government, the private sector and civil society underpinned by core values of public service and integrity.

The South Africa study concludes that although there is room for improvement, the country`s National Integrity System has come a long way in the ten short years since the advent of democratic rule. The challenge now is to ensure that these positive developments are strengthened and carried forward as the country faces the challenges of its second decade of democracy.

The National Integrity Systems TI Country Study Report - South Africa 2005 was written by Hennie van Vuuren, Senior Researcher: Anti-Corruption Strategies at the Institute for Security Studies Organised Crime & Corruption Programme. The report, in a final draft stage, was prepared under the auspices of a programme developed by the TI Secretariat together with Professor Alan Doig and Stephanie McIvor of the Teesside Business School in the United Kingdom. It is the latest in a series of TI country study reports on national integrity systems.