South Africans believe corruption is widespread

South Africans in general believe there is widespread corruption and that it is a common occurrence, according to a report released by Public Service and Administration Minister Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi on Wednesday.

The report, a joint effort by government and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s Southern Africa division, says 39% believe there is a lot of corruption and 41% think it is one of the most important problems facing the country.

Only 35% think the government is doing a good job fighting it.

Addressing a media briefing, Fraser-Moleketi said the survey covered, among others, about 1 000 companies with 50 or more employees and about 85 government departments between April and December last year.

An executive summary says the business sector in particular, believes (62%) that corruption has become a serious issue in business and for business, although it is likely that it is not seen as an important factor in deciding on investment.

Only 12% refrained from making a major investment because of corruption.

However, it adds that citizens’, business’ and public officials’ overall actual experience with corruption is much lower than one might expect from a rather widespread belief that corruption is a common occurrence.

”The business survey showed that 15% were approached to pay a bribe, while seven percent had to pay a bribe, and four percent had to pay extortion.”

The most common areas of corruption are viewed in relation to seeking employment (4,4%), and the provision of services such as water and electricity (3,2%), housing (2,6%) and social grants (2,3%).

About 60% of corruption in South Africa is uncovered by official processes, 18% by civil society and eight percent by the media. Fraser-Moleketi said only 13% was uncovered by whistle-blowers, which was cause for concern.

She said whistle-blowing is crucial to the detection of fraud and corruption.

”Internal and external audits are not intended to detect or prevent corruption and fraud, and they are not well suited to do so. For a whistle-blowing mechanism to be effective, there must be effective protection of the identity of the whistle-blower and there must be effective follow-up of all bona fide disclosures.

”Most government departments do not have policies and procedures in place to comply with the Protected Disclosures Act,” the report says.

Few departments have a hotline, and there is a need for the establishment of a well functioning hotline system.

Debate is also needed on whether it should be a central system for government or left to departments to operate in a decentralised ways.

The business community identified clearance of goods through customs, procurement of goods for government, police investigations, and obtaining business licences and permits, work and residence permits as the most corruption prone activities.

The public servants most associated with corruption appear to be the police, followed by customs, local government, home affairs, and court officials, the summary says. – Sapa

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