South Africa

Corruption so high in South Africa that it is seen as a ‘flawed democracy’

Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) shows that corruption in South Africa has increased over the last five years. The country is classified as a flawed democracy.

The Corruption Perceptions Index is Transparency International’s flagship research product and a leading global indicator of public sector corruption.

The index offers an annual snapshot of the relative degree of corruption by ranking countries and territories worldwide.

The CPI ranks 180 countries and territories worldwide by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, scoring on a scale of 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean).

South Africa received a score of 41, which is below the global average of 43. It is classified as a flawed democracy.

The country also dropped to its lowest overall ranking since the index was created. It plummeted from 72 in 2022 to 83 in 2023.

South Africa also dropped out of the top 10 in the sub-Saharan African region. Its highest rank was 61 out of 168 countries in 2015.

Transparency International highlighted that South Africa’s score has declined over the past five years.

The increased corruption dampens hopes for ending corruption by establishing a just governmental system.

Corruption Watch executive director Karam Singh said it was frustrating that so few corrupt people have been successfully prosecuted.

“The corrupt have been exposed for all to see in the Zondo Commission and robust media investigations,” Singh said.

Despite the damning information, very few of the implicated parties have been brought to justice.

He added that the fact that the government has not reacted – not even mentioned in the State of the Nation address -is telling.

“With elections also due in 2024, the governing party will seek to preserve as much of its shaky reputation as possible,” Singh said.

General elections an opportunity for change

Corruption Watch executive director Karam Singh

Transparency International said South Africa’s 2024 General Elections offer an opportunity for change.

“The executive continues to lead ongoing anti-corruption efforts to draw in stakeholders from across society, including by setting up the National Anti-Corruption Advisory Council,” it said.

This presents an opportunity to launch anti-corruption campaigns geared towards political parties and their manifestos.

The elections can also help mobilise the public and civil society to hold the country’s leaders accountable.

“It is crucial to leverage this moment to build upon the recommendations of the Zondo Commission to ensure that systems and legislation are strengthened,” it said.

Singh argued that with the elections looming, the need for accountable leaders of integrity could not be more critical.

“It is time that citizens stop enabling government corruption and realise that as voters in a democratic society, they hold the power.”

“By demanding accountability, citizens will pressure elected leaders and public servants to institute lasting changes and intensify the fight against corruption.”


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