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Transparency International (TI) has released a comprehensive civil
society assessment of corruption and efforts to combat it in South
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.
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.
The acting chairperson of Transparency South Africa (TSA), 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 ($332-million) was lost in 2003 to corruption in social
welfare, and the labour ministry may have lost as much as
The study also states that corruption and fraud in the private
sector may cost the economy as much as R50-billion
Lorgat singled out some of the key necessary reforms proposed by
the study, 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 recent scandals such as the multi-billion
dollar 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 commissioned to produce the study, the report
also proposes that South Africa's continued disparity in wealth may
be a contributing factor leading to corruption. A good approach
here is using public awareness campaigns to gain greater citizen
Van Vuuren also highlighted another recommendation of the study, to
investigate crimes of corruption under apartheid so that plundered
wealth can be returned to the countries people.
“The last decade of apartheid rule provided the perfect
environment for large-scale corruption. The lack of transparency,
sanctions and secret defence and oil funds were perfect conduits
for illicit transactions. While this should not detract from the
tasks ahead, anti-corruption agencies should investigate the
reclamation of such stolen assets," he said.
According to TI executive director for the Africa region, Muzong
Kodi, since the development of the NIS Country Study methodology in
2000, TI has authored more than 60 studies including a dozen on
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 (AU) Convention on
Combating Corruption is kept on the 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.