SA’s performance in Corruption Perceptions Index disappoints – Corruption Watch

30th January 2024 By: Thabi Shomolekae - Creamer Media Senior Writer

SA’s performance in Corruption Perceptions Index disappoints – Corruption Watch

Photo by: Reuters

Non-profit organisation Corruption Watch (CW) noted on Tuesday that South Africa continues on a downward trajectory on corruption, saying with elections looming in a few months, the need for accountable leaders with integrity could not be more critical.

Anti-corruption movement Transparency International (TI) released the 2023 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), which paints a bleak picture of the country’s corruption status. Dropping below the global average, South Africa has lost another two points since last year on the leading global index measuring perceptions of public sector corruption around the world, with a score of 41.

CW, which is TI’s local chapter, noted that South Africa has never scored so low, until now.

“This score is a decline from the previous low of 42 in 2013, and two points below its maiden score of 43 in 2012. It is one of 23 countries that reached their lowest ever scores this year, stumbling into the category of flawed democracies,” said CW executive director Karam Singh.

He explained that despite the country’s milestone of 30 years of democracy, and the expectation that systems would be overhauled and corruption would disappear, South Africa’s score had declined on the CPI over the past five years.

Singh noted frustration at the fact that despite the corrupt having been exposed in public processes such as the Zondo Commission and through robust media investigations, so few of the implicated parties have been brought to justice.

He added that there was an urgency to the problem of corruption, as citizens witnessed the unravelling of cities and infrastructure because of years of impunity and State capture.

“There is nothing to celebrate as South Africa now joins those countries in the world where corruption seems not only entrenched, but able to thrive. The global trend of weakening justice systems, according to the Rule of Law Index, which is referenced by TI in this year’s report, and highlighted as a challenge experienced by every region on the index, creates an environment of impunity for, and reduced accountability of, public officials involved in corruption,” he said.

He added that the failure of law enforcement agencies to bring many of the corrupt to account and to strengthen the rule of law and channels of justice, meant that many people living in South Africa had yet to experience the freedom that they were so promised.

Singh noted that with the upcoming State of the Nation and Budget speeches, the organisation would be looking for progress in ensuring the democratic independence of key institutions such as the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

He said ensuring the structural and operational independence of the NPA was critical in the fight against corruption and future-proofing the system against State capture.

“Along with this independence is the need to ensure that there is appropriate funding for the criminal justice system, including the NPA, to carry forth the implementation of the Zondo commission's recommendations and ensure that the capacity of the key institutions is bolstered to ensure the successful prosecution of State capture cases,” he said.

Singh explained that despite the progress made in criminalising corruption and establishing specialised anti-corruption institutions around the world, only 28 of the 180 countries measured have reduced their corruption levels, and 34 countries have significantly worsened.

He highlighted that the fight for justice and the fight against corruption went hand in hand.

“…where the justice system is unable to uphold the rule of law, corruption thrives. At the same time, where corruption is the norm, access to justice is often hindered for the most vulnerable, and justice institutions may be captured by political, economic or special interest groups.”

He said South Africa needed a new drive to remove corruption.


2023 Corruption Perceptions Index report attached.