The fight against corruption on the national stage is heating up. Recently Corruption Watch commended Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan for sacking Sars commissioner Oupa Magashula after allegations of misconduct came to light, Mr. Magashula handing his resignation, with effect from Friday. This decisive and swift response is something South Africa would like to see more of, as corruption is becoming an embarrassing issue for the country on the global stage.
The results are in and South Africa is failing the corruption test, while corruption has been on the minds and mouths of the nation, nothing quite beats actually having the levels of corruption numerically measured. Transparency International’s 2013 Global Corruption Barometer shows that that almost 50% of South Africans have reported paying a bribe to a government official in the last year! This is 20% higher than the global average.
These bribes have been to secure essential services and the Corruption Watch has admitted that these findings correlate with complaints received. Sadly a high number of these complaints are coming from underprivileged sectors of society, corruption seems to be actively bottom-feeding, the most corrupt institutions being the police and local government, institutions that make up the support structures of society.
Other staggering statistics state that 83% of South Africans believe that the Police are corrupt. In a country with South Africa’s crime rates, these kinds of results are disturbing, because corruption is a weed that if allowed to, will take over. It starts with a small fee to overlook a traffic offense, it moves onto something slightly bigger and on and on it goes. Like termites eating away at the stage South Africa stands on globally and on the continent.
It seems to be an uphill struggle, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel, 61% to 80% of South Africans have said that they are willing to fight against corruption. And it would seem that it’s not a moment too soon.
The Anti-corruption unit of the SAPS has been re-launched by National police commissioner Mangwashi Phiyega on Thursday. The top cop explaining that the police fight against corruption nationally, wouldn’t have a leg to stand on, unless corruption was also actively fought in the SAPS.Being the top cop, she will be the face of the anti-corruption effort in the police service and will be hoping to rebuild the country’s tattered perception of police officers, something that may be difficult considering how her predecessors fared in their posts.
On the local government level, Public Service and Administration Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, announced that the government was launching an anti-corruption bureau to deal with corruption at all levels of the public service, particularly through bribery of officials and during procurement processes. The minister has urged the public to report cases of corruption, a process which hopefully will be made easier through the new bureau. It is one thing to tell people to report corruption and another thing to provide accessible channels to facilitate the process, espec ially for those most affected by corruption, which would be underprivileged communities.
As the heat is put on the weeds, one can only hope that they will shrink. It’s everyone’s job to fight corruption. It’s a national imperative. The nation will have to wait and see, how corruption will fight back, as it is a hardy little weed, those profiting from it, will not be willing to lose ground. The government and police service will need to be able to quash rising levels of intimidation of complainants and quick moves to conceal evidence of corruption. One can only hope that corruption will be pulled from the roots and not nicely trimmed on top.