The Impact of Corruption in South Africa

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Corruption is a universal problem but the degrees of severity differ quite significantly from country to country. Its effects can seriously limit the development of national economies and undermine good governance. Corruption erodes stability and trust, and it damages the ethos of democratic governance. However, most of our reports are linked to corruption at the municipal level.

Corruption is the abuse of public resources or public power for personal gain. Different types of corruption plays a huge role in service delivery such as employment, procurement, bribe, mismanagement, abuse of government and abuse of government resources as well as power. Majority of reported corruption are linked to municipalities and only four reports were received in connection to provincial or national departments. The government’s duty is to deliver and provide essential and effective service to the community but is impacted by prevalence of corruption in many cases. Government officials use their power to gain personal growth through corruption.

Corruption is a major issue in South Africa and it is affecting all of us. Through corruption a huge amount of money is taken away from government through corruption which affect the service delivery very negatively. With reports of corruption and poor service delivery hitting the press on a regular basis, access to water is a contentious issue that has sparked desperation, violence and death. Corruption threatens sustainable economic development, ethical values and justice. It destabilises our society and endangers the rule of law. It undermines the institutions and values of our democracy. Main causes of corruption according to the studies are the size and structure of governments, the democracy and the political system, the quality of institutions, economic freedom or the openness of economy, salaries of civil service, press freedom and judiciary, cultural determinants.

Corruption in South Africa includes the private use of public resources, bribery, and improper likings. “The 2017 Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index assigned South Africa an index of 43 out of 100, ranking South Africa 71 out of 180 countries.” Due to corruption in our country other countries are scared of doing business with our country ad that affects the economy in a negative way. Corruption also damages economic life of a society. Although some argue that it can help grease the wheels of a slow-moving and overregulated economy, there is little doubt that corruption increases the cost of goods and services, promotes unproductivity investment in projects that are not economically viable or sustainable.

Types of Corruption

Reports reveal that the most commonly type of corruption is that, that is linked to tenders or procurement 44% of all reports were of this nature. Other types of corruption reported relate to bribery, mismanagement, abuse of power or resources, and employment, latter is the second most commonly reported type of corruption.


The amount of corruption cases relating to employment is 23% which was reported. A person who does not even qualify get appointed. There is a person in a position where the post was never even advertise. Following irregular procedures in the employment appointing process. Government officials takes advantage of his or her position to favour a family member or business associate for a job or tender contract. This is commonly called nepotism. ” A Northern Cape reporter described the situation thus: The New Regional Manager of XXX Water has mislead the Acting CEO and the Former Board into appointing. He has lied about his management experience and does not have an ECSA Registration required by the advertisement Word is that he does not even have those management qualities that are required for the post. His references are his close associated and they lied for him.”


Procurement in the public sector are responsible for buying goods and services that the government need from the private sector for service delivery. They administer the means of commercial transactions. These range from basic stationery requirements and other consumables to mainframe computer systems, military weaponry and large public buildings (Lloyd and McCue 2004:2). There are daily purchases of stationery, cleaning material, staff refreshments and other consumables for which there are few specific procurement rules, then there are range of higher value purchases which are subject to particular rules of competitiveness and than there are a much higher range value of purchasesfor which more complex and strict rules apply. Corruption all three procurement levels has been reported (Steyn 2012).” Corrupt practices specific to procurement transactions include bribery, extortion, embezzlement, nepotism, patronage systems, fraud, kickback schemes, false invoices, overpaying, fronting in Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) companies, inflated prices, unnecessary purchases, payments made for goods or services not received, ghost suppliers on the “preferred suppliers list”, the use of shell companies, and “facilitation fees” required by state officials” (Krappe and Kallayil, 2003; Woods and Mantzaris 2012:123). Principal leave an opening for corruption. Ther are a variety of potential ways, processes, systems and risk control options to combat corruption in the public sector.


Bribery is to offer something to get something in return in an illegal way. Offering or giving of a benefit that improperly affects or intends to affect the actions or decisions of a public official. It affects decisions and actions of public officials. It also affect the government. “A police officer solicits a bribe or a member of the public offers one in order to escape lawful punishment.” “A business individual pays a bribe to a government official in order to be given a government contract or license.” Bribery is a very common form of corruption in public service delivery.


If service delivery affairs are managed incompetently or dishonestly and available funds are mismanaged it can lead to corruption and wrongdoing within the public sector. “He used uMngeni as an example saying the municipality lost electricity worth between R60 and R80 million every year. This is due to theft, illegal connections and the bypassing of meters.” “Millar said that funds lost could be directed to other service delivery programmes, including upgrading the electricity infrastructure or connecting those who were not on the grid.”

Abuse of Government

Government officials uses it’s power to reduce funds in certain departments for service delivery and use for their advantage and it reduces the resources and quality available for public service delivery.

“It is clear that the protective functions of workplace health and safety have transferred to the workers through the process of corporate government deregulation and reduced funding of relevant government departments.” ― Steven Magee

“This has an major impacts on public service delivery and it is a form of corruption.

The state secrets privilege allows the executive to refuse to produce evidence in a court case, on the grounds that the evidence is secret information that would harm national security or foreign relations interests if disclosed. Part of the expansion of executive power since 9/11 has been the unprecedented increase in the use of the state secrets privilege to withhold evidence in cases that seek to hold the Bush administration accountable for its systematic violations of civil and human rights.

Used as a trump card to disarm the courts and cover up government abuse of power, the state secrets privilege undermines our system of checks and balances by circumventing independent judicial review of the executive branch and allows the executive to essentially dictate to the federal courts which cases they can and cannot hear.”

Abuse of Government Resources

Public officials using government owned resources such as government vehicles for private use. This is a form of corruption. Here is an article on abuse of government resources:

“Pretoria – Public Service and Administration Minister, Advocate Ngoako Ramatlhodi, has condemned the abuse of state resources by some public servants.Minister Ramatlhodi said all public servants must at all times comply with the Public Service Code of Conduct and provisions of the Service Charter.“The Public Service Code of Conduct requires that public servants should be honest and accountable in dealing with public funds and use the Public Service’s property and other resources effectively, efficiently and only for authorised official purposes,” he said. He said state resources such as laptops, telephones, cellphones and even data – which are meant to execute official duties – cannot be utilised to undermine and contravene the letter and spirit of the Code of Conduct without any consequences.

“This abuse of state resources is not only unethical behaviour but also a misconduct. These misbehaving public servants abuse time which could be effectively utilised to enhance service delivery to engage in their own private matters, which brings the public service into disrepute,” Minister Ramatlhodi said.He warned public servants, saying that abuse of state resources will not be tolerated in the public service and the necessary disciplinary steps will be instituted to curb such a conduct.

The Minister has called upon accounting officers in government departments to enforce compliance of the Code of Conduct without fear or favour and to institute disciplinary action indiscriminately against public servants who do not comply.“In terms of the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council Resolution 2 of 1999, all the employees in the Public Service have the responsibility to comply with the prescribed Code of Conduct.“As this forms the main basis on which pro-active, corrective and even disciplinary action rests, the government departments must do everything possible to ensure that the contents of the Code of Conduct are known to all employees,’ he said.

Minister Ramatlhodi has reminded public servants about Chapter 10 of the Constitution of South Africa, which requires the public service, amongst others, to maintain and promote a high standard of professional ethics, promote efficient, economic and effective use of resources, and is accountable for its actions. ‘Therefore, whether a public servant engages the public through the media or any public platform, his or her behaviour must conform to what the highest law in our country expects of them,’ he said.He said the public service will not be allowed to degenerate in its moral fibre because of a few public servants who conduct themselves unprofessionally.”

Here a report by the Trade Union Solidarity of nine corruption cases:

  •  Local government

“In 2013, Corruption Watch declared local government to be the most corrupt institution in the country, Solidarity said.“Corruption Watch spokesperson Bongi Mlangeni said: “We receive too many reports about maladministration, mismanagement of public funds and abuse of resources by officials at local government levels. It seems there is a need to rethink how systems of accountability can be applied at these levels.”

  • Entrepreneurship

“Irregular expenditure of R2.429 billion was incurred by 17 auditees in the Free State during 2013-14. It was mainly caused by non-compliance with supply chain management requirements, the report revealed. “During 2013/14, nearly 60% of the auditees had material findings concerning uncompetitive and unfair procurement processes and these findings were also the main cause of the irregular expenditure of R11.351 billion.”

  •  Tshwane prepaid meters

“What seemed like a wise measure aimed at combatting the non-payment of electricity in the City of Tshwane, was exposed as an exceedingly expensive and corrupt imbroglio, said Solidarity. “Tshwane had paid PEU a gargantuan R830 million between October 2013 and May 2015 to install 800,000 meters and manage the project for eight years. At the time of cancellation, only 12 930 meters had been installed while PEU was required to install more than 435,000 during the first two years – a target it was highly unlikely to achieve.”

  •  The SAPS

“Cash-flush criminals bribe police officers to thwart cases against them while poor people are denied justice as they simply do not have the means to pay police officers to do the work they are supposed to, Solidarity said.”

  • The Metro police

“In January 2015, three Tshwane metro cops were arrested for bribery, while the Tshwane Metro Police Department sacked 67 members of its anti-corruption unit in late 2011 and officially disbanded the unit in 2012, the report showed.“A worrying 184 out of 2,600 officers at the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) were probed for corruption between 2009 and 2011.”

Prasa“Reeling from recent revelations on a corrupt tender that saw R620 million being wasted on unsuitable locomotives, the beleaguered Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) has been coming off its rails, Solidarity said.“The public protector found that (ex CEO Lucky) Montana was responsible for large-scale maladministration, abuse of power and wasteful expenditure during his tenure at Prasa.”

  • False qualifications

“Ever since the ignominious revelations that ANC spokesperson Carl Niehaus lied about his qualifications, many government bigwigs have been outed as qualification falsifiers, Solidarity said.” “No scandal of this kind was bigger than the one surrounding former Arts and Culture Minister and struggle stalwart Pallo Jordan. It was established in 2014 that Jordan lied about obtaining his PhD and has no tertiary qualifications whatsoever.”

  •  Home Affairs

“A 2015 report showed that the Marabastad refugee office in Pretoria is a hotbed of corruption and bribery and one of the most corrupt Home Affairs offices in the country, Solidarity said. “A 2012 report analysing the complaints lodged with the National Anti-Corruption hotline stated that corruption at the Department of Home Affairs took fourth place, with 781 cases reported since the hotline’s inception in 2004.”

  • The cabinet and parliament

“In 2006, 14 ANC LPs were convicted and fined after pleading guilty to theft and fraud charges due to the abuse of parliamentary travel vouchers in a case known as Travelgate, Solidarity said.”


Government should give more severe punishments to government officials who commit corruption and that could hopefully decrease corruption in South Africa and we will than receive better service delivery as well. Appropriate administrative, financial and economic reforms can reduce opportunities for corruption. Parliament, watchdog agencies and judiciary can raise awareness about corrupt behavior. Identifying public administrative areas where corruption normally occur and work on them. Procurement services can be made more open, transparent and competitive. They must attract more qualified and experienced employees.

The rules and regulations should be communicated in simple clear language and make it easily accessible to the public and those seeking government services. At work level , improve supervision of civil servants to ensure that they are not abusing their positions. To some extent this political will created and sustaining the momentum for reform depend on a strong civil society willing and able to press for change. Government should make sure they appoint honorable public servants to decrease corruption. It is hard to get rid of corruption as it will always be an impact on government but by implementing some of these elements it can be reduced.”

Education and training for all employees about corruption and how to avoid or report it should be part of any induction programme. Businesses can establish whistle-blowing hotlines and internal audit procedures. They should ensure all employees, and particularly any involved in tender and procurement programmes, are aware of the law and their roles and responsibilities to obey it (and possible criminal charges if they do not).” Other ways to decrease or stop corruption is to end impunity, reform public administration and finance management, promote transparency and to close international loopholes.

Cite this paper

The Impact of Corruption in South Africa. (2020, Dec 06). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/the-impact-of-corruption-in-south-africa/

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