South Africa

Corruption in South Africa now worse than under Zuma

South Africa dropped further in the 2023 Corruption Perceptions Index, showing that corruption is not only entrenched in South Africa but allowed to thrive.

Transparency International’s (TI) 2023 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) saw South Africa score 41 on a scale from 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean).

Since Corruption Watch (CW), Transparency International’s local chapter, started tracking its progress on the index 12 years ago, South Africa has never scored as low as 41. 

This score is a decline from the previous low of 42 in 2013 and two points below its maiden score of 43 in 2012. This was during the state-capture years under former President Jacob Zuma.

South Africa is one of 23 countries that reached their lowest-ever scores this year and now fall into the category of “flawed democracies”. South Africa’s score of 41 also means it has dropped below the global average.

The CPI scores 180 countries and territories around the world by their perceived levels of public-sector corruption, according to experts and businesspeople. 

“South Africa now joins those countries in the world where corruption seems not only entrenched but able to thrive,” the report said. 

It said the global trend of weakening justice systems creates an environment of impunity for and reduced accountability of public officials involved in corruption.

“It is frustrating that, in a country like South Africa, where the corrupt have been exposed for all to see in such public processes as the Zondo Commission and robust media investigations, so few of the implicated parties have been brought to justice,” said CW executive director Karam Singh. 

“There is an urgency to our corruption problem, as citizens witness the unravelling of cities and infrastructure because of years of impunity and state capture.” 

“With elections looming in a few months, the need for accountable leaders of integrity could not be more critical.” 

South Africa achieved the same score as Burkina Faso and Vietnam and now ranks just below Cuba, China and Hungary.


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