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A threat to national security? SA's rating in Transparency International's Government Defence Anti-Corruption Index
Date: 22 February 2013

The recently released Transparency International Government Defence Anti-Corruption Index revealed that 70% of the countries surveyed in 2012 did not have adequate systems in place to address the risk of corruption related to their military expenditure. The index assessed the 84 countries that accounted for 94% of the global military expenditure in 2011 equivalent to USD 1,7 trillion.

Defence sector corruption is dangerous in that it undermines military effectiveness and the purchase of poor equipment places the lives of troops at risk. Corruption is also divisive because it destroys trust in government and the armed forces, and between personnel. Moreover, it is wasteful given that billions of dollars of public money is lost.

The methodology of the index involved a questionnaire that was completed by an expert independent assessor, which was then reviewed by two independent peer reviewers, a government reviewer, and finally a TI National Chapter reviewer. The assessment is based on the answers given to 77 questions which are scored on a 5-point scale. The questions are structured according to the TI-DSP typology of corruption risks which are political, personnel related, financial, operational and operations related.

The index shows that the state of corruption controls in the defence sector across the world are dismal. For example, 70% of the 84 countries assessed have poor or non-existent controls against corruption, 50% do not publish their defence budget, or do so only minimally, 85% have no effective legislative scrutiny of defence policy and 90% have no effective system for whistleblowing. On the positive side, many Ministers of Defence have started to acknowledge the existence of corruption in the defence sector and are ready to address – a situation that did not exist 10 years ago.

South Africa’s overall score was a D+ which means that this country has an average ranking globally. Nevertheless, it obtained the highest average score of the 12 African countries assessed, followed by Tanzania. The worst performing African country was Angola. Of concern is that military spending in Sub-Saharan Africa has increased continuously since 2001. More details on this index and its findings can be found at the following websites: or

Terry Crawford-Brown highlighted that South Africa is one of 40 signatory countries to the 1997 Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials. Implementing legislation includes the Prevention of Organised Crime Act (1998). Sadly, however, there is little if any enforcement of the protocols and legislation in place to tackle corruption in South Africa. There is evidence that R1,5 billion was paid in bribes related to South Africa’s notorious the arms deal. For example, the British Secretary for Trade and Industry, Patricia Hewitt, admitted in 2003 that bribes had been paid to South African politicians and officials to secure BAE’s contracts.

President Jacob Zuma reluctantly appointed the Seriti Commission of Inquiry into the arms deal shortly before the Constitutional Court was about to compel him to establish an inquiry. It is important that the Seriti Commission subpoena any individuals, including Thabo Mbeki, Trevor Manual and Alec Erwin, to hold them to account for their role in this deal.


Related documents:

Presentation by Nick Seymour on the Government Defence Anti-Corruption Index

This seminar was funded by the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The ISS is also grateful for the support of the following core partners: the governments of Norway, Sweden, Australia and Denmark.
Gareth Newham
Tel: +27 12 346 9500 (Ext 263)
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