South Africa

Corruption worse under Ramaphosa than Zuma

Cyril Ramaphosa

Despite claims to the contrary, corruption under President Cyril Ramaphosa is worse than it was during Jacob Zuma’s administration. 

Ramaphosa, in an interview on 702, claimed that “commentators like Corruption Watch (CW) have said that during this term, they have seen incidents of corruption going down”. 

The President made this statement while listing his administration’s anti-corruption successes and institutional reforms.

Corruption Watch (CW) refuted the President’s statement and objected to being referenced in this way as part of an electioneering campaign. 

The organisation emphasised that the number of reports it receives or the research it does is in no way a conclusive overview of the entire corruption situation in South Africa.

CW recently issued an opinion piece on this issue of mis- and disinformation being used for political ends, titled Elections and the Dirty Game of Disinformation. 

The article makes clear the ways in which organisations with strong anti-corruption profiles, such as CW, can find their names and information misused to peddle self-serving and inaccurate narratives. 

It referenced a specific example in which a social media user distorted figures and content from the 2023 annual report with the aim of demonstrating that corruption cases had dropped during the current administration.

“While the number of reports received by our organisation may have declined in recent years, this is in no way a reflection of either the state of corruption in the country or the progress in fighting it,” said CW executive director Karam Singh. 

“On the contrary, it would be safe to say that the levels of corruption have been on an upward trajectory for over a decade, as evidenced by tools such as the Corruption Perceptions Index.”

“Despite the numerous organisations and institutions now doing their best to tackle the problem, the battle has not been won.”

Corruption Watch executive director Karam Singh

Corruption is getting worse

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

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. In 2015, its highest rank was 61 out of 168 countries.

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.

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


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