Reitumetse Makwea

By Reitumetse Makwea

Journalist


Corruption battle: A test of SA’s post-election resolve

Analysts fear anticorruption efforts may falter after polls, highlighting the need for continued pressure.


In the wake of the Special Investigating Unit’s recent actions targeting corruption, questions have arisen about the sustainability of anticorruption efforts beyond the elections.

Some experts say without the looming polls, these efforts would not have seen the light of day.

As South Africa braces for elections on 29 May, some experts have highlighted the pressing need for robust anticorruption measures to address systemic issues plaguing the nation.

Likelihood for efforts to die down after elections

However, they noted the likelihood of these efforts dying down after the elections as the pressure eases on the ruling party.

“The positive point to note is why elections are important,” said political economy analyst Daniel Silke. “That’s why a competitive political system is important, it puts pressure on the party in power.

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“And that’s why we need political systems where the ruling party fears being booted out of office; in that sense our democracy is beginning to perform.

“Voters are beginning to hold government to account and government is being forced, kicking and screaming, to act, particularly when it comes to very senior and influential members of the ANC.

“So, politically we are maturing as a country,” said Silke.

Over 2 000 complaints received

On Wednesday, Corruption Watch released its 12th annual report, Changing The Landscape.

In 2023, Corruption Watch received 2 110 complaints from the private to public sectors, mining to policing.

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The Corruption Perceptions Index released in January 2024 suggested it was getting worse, as South Africa had moved to 41st place from 42rd the year before.

Corruption Watch chair Themba Maseko said in the report poor leadership and a lack of accountability had eroded public trust and confidence in the state’s capacity to deliver on the promise of an equal and just society, as impunity for those implicated in wrongdoing continued.

“Along with these challenges, the sheer scale of corruption and mismanagement has contributed to rising levels of poverty, inequality, unemployment and crime, and deteriorating infrastructure, utilities and services,” he added.

“Corruption Watch remains at the centre of the fight against corruption, determined to hold those in power accountable because we understand this hardwon democracy must be defended by all South Africans who care about the future of their country.”

Direct connection service delivery failures and rampant corruption

Silke said for many South Africans, there was a direct connection between the ANC’s failure in service delivery and the rampant corruption within the party itself.

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“Once this link is established, the ANC starts haemorrhaging support at the polls … there’s an urgent need for the ANC to appear proactive against corruption.

“Thus, we can anticipate more arrests and asset seizures.”

The election was driving a newfound commitment to holding senior figures accountable.

“The recent arrest and political vulnerability of former National Assembly speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula underscores this point, particularly in an election year,” he said.

“Would there be the same sense of urgency if there were no election this year?” he asked. “I’d argue the election and the ANC’s weakened position are the primary motivators, rather than a genuine commitment to ethical governance.”

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Anticorruption efforts dwarfed by dysfunction caused by corruption

Meanwhile, political analyst Dr Ralph Mathekga said the anticorruption efforts were dwarfed by the apparent level of dysfunction caused by corruption.

“These efforts are still a scratching the surface, yet they are important and need to be ramped up to amount a satisfactory intervention against the scourge of corruption,” he said.