Global Corruption Barometer reveals alarming figures for southern Africa

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A Transparency International (TI) report released today to mark international anti-corruption day notes that 62% of South Africans believe that levels of corruption have increased over the past twelve months while only 15% believe corruption has decreased.

The report also finds that more than half of South Africans (56%) believe that the government’s actions in the fight against corruption are either ineffective or make no positive effect.

The TI report was conducted in 26 countries and in South Africa was undertaken by Topline Research Solutions, which used a representative sample of 1000 South Africans in urban areas. The report found that only seven other countries (Nigeria, Senegal, Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, Cameroon and Pakistan) rated their police service more corrupt than South African respondents. South Africans scored the police service as 4.4 out of 5, where 5 is highly corrupt, and 1 is not at all corrupt.

Policemen receive one-third of the world’s bribes; one-fifth of them goes to the workers of services, which provide registration documents and permissions; and 14 per cent of the world’s bribes go to the justice bodies’ officials.

Worldwide, sub-Saharan Africa was the region reporting the greatest incidence of bribery with more than one person in two saying they had paid bribes in the past 12 months.

Corruption is a serious issue in South Africa and the Public Service Commission’s 2010 State of the Public Service report shows that the 1204 financial misconduct cases reported in government departments in the 2008-09 financial period was the highest number in seven years.

Minister of Public Service and Administration Richard Baloyi last month said his department will soon craft legislation that will force senior government officials exiting the public service to cool off for a year before joining companies.

Former Public Enterprises Minister Barbara Hogan in September ruled that her department would not contract with a new company formed by her predecessor, Alec Erwin, her former director-general, Portia Molefe, and former CE of Denel Saab Aerostructures, Lana Kinley. Business Day reported at the time there was a danger that they could use the inside information they gleaned while in government to gain unfair advantage for their company — Ubu Investment Holdings — over competitors. It was reported Ubu planned to foster partnerships between investors and the government to launch large-scale enterprises in energy and transport infrastructure, mining and agriculture.

Baloyi said he wanted to limit the process of “javelin throwing”, where government officials approved deals for companies they later joined, the Business Day reported. The “cool off” was meant for officials involved in the adjudication, recommendation and awarding of tenders, as well as the whole procurement process.

Baloyi announced the move while launching the department’s Special Anti-Corruption Unit, the latest in a string of entities to fight malfeasance. This unit joins other departments and state agencies involved in the fight against corruption. Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said last month the government was investigating procurement and tender fraud worth R25 billion. Business Day says the unit will co-ordinate disciplinary processes in the public service, bolster corruption investigations, and introduce uniform ethics and recruitment standards across all government departments.

Officials leaving the government also needed to disclose details of their new job, including the name of the employers and the financial details of the new job. This would enable the department to assess whether they were joining a company that benefitted from the activities of the official before leaving the government.

The opposition Democratic Alliance party welcomed the announcement but urged haste “to ensure that this initiative does not become another example of empty … government rhetoric. The importance of such regulation has increased given the recent cabinet changes, which saw the most dramatic reshuffle of the executive between elections since 1994.”

Meanwhile, DA leader and Western Cape provincial premier Helen Zille has signed the “Business Interests of Employees” Bill which restricts Western Cape government employees from doing business with the provincial government. It introduces rules restricting Western Cape government employees from doing business with the provincial government.

The Business Interests of Employees Act would, among other things, prohibit Western Cape government employees and their relatives from directly or indirectly holding more than 5% of shares, stock, membership or other interests in an entity that does business with the provincial government, unless approval is given by their managers.



It also stipulates that any entity that signs contracts with the provincial government will have to provide an affidavit disclosing whether or not it is owned, or part-owned, by provincial government employees.