Ina Opperman

By Ina Opperman

Business Journalist

No surprises there: Most corruption complaints in Gauteng, 3 metros

In 2022, Corruption Watch researched and reported on public procurement transparency, corruption trends and corruption in education.

There were no surprises in the eleventh annual report of Corruption Watch that shows Gauteng is the most corrupt province, with its metros Johannesburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni contributing to 58% of incidents reported regarding local government.

According to the report, called Accelerating Justice, Corruption Watch received over 38 000 complaints of alleged corrupt activities since its launch in 2012 and in 2022 it collected 2 168 reports of corruption.

Most of the complaints were about the mining sector (24%), followed by policing (11%), business (9%) and basic education (9%).

Corruption Watch says in the report corruption is so pervasive that it is spread equally between national (28%) and provincial (26%) government levels.

Corruption at local government takes the biggest slice, with just under two-thirds of whistleblower complaints pointing to this area, while three of the five top contributors to this high figure are metropolitan municipalities, the City of Johannesburg, City of Tshwane and City of Ekurhuleni.

According to Corruption Watch, the high number of graft issues in the mining sector was due to its mining projects which targeted mining communities during public education and advocacy drives in the Free State, North West and KwaZulu-Natal.

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Maladministration tops the list of corruption

The types of corruption most reported countrywide across all focus areas are similar to previous years, with maladministration, including mismanagement of funds and fruitless and wasteful expenditure accounting for 25%, fraud for 17%, employment irregularities, including nepotism and favouritism for 13%, bribery and extortion, including sextortion for 11%, dereliction of duty for 9% and procurement irregularities, including kickbacks and the flouting of processes, for 9%.

The provincial breakdown also presents a familiar picture, with Gauteng accounting for 36% of complaints received, followed by KwaZulu-Natal with 18%, Free State with 13%, Mpumalanga with 11%, Western Cape with 8%, Limpopo and Eastern Cape with 5% each, North West with 3% and the Northern Cape with 1%.

Corruption Watch adopted a definition of corruption as the abuse of entrusted power or resources, by anyone for private gain, says Karam Singh, executive director.

“This definition seeks to articulate the view that corruption involves a symbiotic relationship between the public and private sectors. It manifests in various ways, from the illicit effort to accumulate power and authority to irregularly influence democratic processes, to outright theft of resources through unlawful re-direction and accumulation of state assets.”

He says this means that at the very least, bold solutions across the vectors of ensuring accountability, promoting transparency and seeking to embed good governance must be a prime focus, if the country is to change direction.

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Zondo and state capture particular focus in 2022

According to the report, the state capture revelations and findings of the Zondo Commission were a particular focus area in 2022, and the organisation was specifically mentioned in volumes 2 and 4 of the commission’s report part 6, regarding the organisation’s work advocating for transparent, merit-based appointments to key leadership positions that are free from political interference.

Chief Justice Raymond Zondo also recommended in the commission’s report that Parliament consider amending its rules to give effect to the proposals of Corruption Watch on appointments by Parliament.

Singh says this was a significant achievement for Corruption Watch and a validation of its commitment to transparency and accountability, as well as its ongoing work to advance good governance in our institutions.

“It is clear, from a review of the events of 2022 and the current challenges, that numerous issues require attention and focus if we are to rid the country of the corruption that has all but derailed many of the foundations of our democracy,” Singh says.

“Corruption Watch is intent on accelerating its work to restore justice, equality and access to constitutional and socio-economic rights for all who live in South Africa. This includes ramping up the pressure for transparency and accountability in the implementation of laws, appointments of leaders, procurement processes and adherence to good governance systems.”

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Whistleblower protection

The organisation will also continue to champion the need for a much-enhanced whistleblower protection and support systems, even addressing the incentivisation of whistleblowers.

“There is no time to waste, as the window of opportunity to radically overhaul our anti-corruption efforts and indeed our current structures and architecture, will not remain open for long. It will require commitment from the whole of society and a steely resolve and determination to bring us back from the brink,” Singh says.

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