Corruption Becoming a Cultural Problem in South Africa

By Nicolette Chinomona | 2013-07-12 23:08

Corruption is always in the news, in fact it has become so common, that it is no longer surprising. It no longer shocks the sense, at least not for ordinary South Africans and the country is fast approaching a stage where no one will bother making noise about it anymore. A recent survey revealed that even the South African Police Service (SAPS), which is supposed to be fighting corruption, is perceived to be corrupt. On Thursday National Commissioner General Riah Phiyega launched an anti-corruption unit aimed at eradicating corruption within the SAPS.

In the years since independence, ordinary South Africans have been trying to build new lives, for themselves and for the generations to come- all things bright and beautiful, except it has proven to not be as easy as some initially thought. For those that break their backs to build the future, they have at some point encountered those that would not break their backs, but instead hold the keys to the gates of success of those that do and will charge a small fee for those who want to pass through. That fee is the much beloved bribe.

To grease the wheels on your way to success it has become almost acceptable, if not probable that some sort of corruption will take place. Unfortunately, the one who can pay the bribe is often not one of the back-breakers, but instead a short-cutter, who doesn’t have what it takes to do the job well. Public officials are bribed to approve certain business activities- they, that should be protecting the public and upholding up the standards of the country we are all trying to build, are putting us in the hands of those who simply want to take advantage of the system.

Corruption as we all know destroys the fiber of society, often milking those that cannot afford to be milked and yet can be found at all levels, in schools, businesses and government. The culture of corruption is an open secret for the world to see and while the country is on the global stage, displaying itself as a bright light on the continent- everyone knows what goes on when the lights go out and it could be crippling South Africa’s chances of bringing in major investors.

After the exuberance of winning a well fought independence, most African countries are left suddenly by their colonial masters and an incredible gap of business leadership is left behind. Into that gap, as often happens, is placed individuals who want their time to shine, who want what they believe they deserve after decades of suffering and toiling under unjust systems and they decide to pay themselves their dues- because they can, and not because they should.

Corruption has become a major culture, no one is shocked by it, as Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has said “Corruption is becoming a cultural problem in South Africa. We need to fight the culture of corruption. A culture of easy money making and not having to think hard, work hard, be clever and find an innovative way of making money.” While gift giving is a central part of African culture, corruption has taken it to new levels. Levels that quite frankly are not acceptable on the global stage, the business environment on the continent might be new, but it will be held to the exact same standards as the rest of the world and it would be tragic if South Africa loses out on investors because certain individuals believe that “taking a bribe, isn’t really hurting anyone.”