Corruption 'worsening' during Ramaphosa's tenure - survey

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President Cyril Ramaphosa.
President Cyril Ramaphosa.
  • Some people say corruption has worsened during President Cyril Ramaphosa's term of office. 
  • The Afrobarometer team, led by the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation and Plus 94 Research, interviewed 1 600 adults. 
  • The face-to-face interviews were conducted in May and June 2021.

Some South Africans say corruption has worsened during President Cyril Ramaphosa's tenure, according to a new survey conducted by Afrobarometer.

The survey found that not only do South Africans believe corruption is getting worse, but they see a large portion of elected officials and civil servants as involved in corrupt activities.

Almost 64 percent of those surveyed say that corruption increased in the past year, while 49 percent say it has "increased a lot".

The Afrobarometer team, led by the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation and Plus 94 Research, interviewed 1 600 adult South Africans in May and June 2021.

The team said a sample of this size yielded country-level results, with a margin of error of around 2.5 percentage points, at a 95% confidence level.

Those surveyed believed the government was largely handling the anti-corruption fight badly.

They also believed that channels to report corruption were increasingly seen as unsafe.

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"State institutions are widely seen as corrupt. Half or more of citizens say 'most' or 'all' officials are involved in corruption in the police (56%), the president's office (53%), local government councils (51%), and Parliament (50%). Non-governmental organisations, traditional leaders and religious leaders are less commonly seen as corrupt."

Afrobarometer found that seven in 10 South Africans say the government is performing "fairly badly" or "very badly" in the fight against corruption.

The Afrobarometer said:

Among citizens who interacted with key public services during the past year, substantial proportions say they had to pay a bribe to avoid a problem with the police (24%) or to obtain a government document (21%), police assistance (15%), public school services (10%), or medical care (8%).

"Three out of four South Africans (76%) say people risk retaliation or other negative consequences if they report incidents of corruption, a 13-percentage-point increase compared to 2018."

Seven out of 10 citizens believe that officials, who break the law, often or always go unpunished.

Despite the high visibility of corruption on the national agenda, almost 64 percent of South Africans say corruption has gotten worse over the past year. Only 15 percent believe corruption has decreased.

"Despite a particular emphasis on anti-corruption efforts focusing on the Presidency, more than half (53%) of South Africans believe that 'most' or 'all' officials in the Presidency are involved in corruption. 

ALSO READ | SA lost R1.5 trillion to corruption in five years and continues to bleed - report

"Among 10 other institutions that Afrobarometer asked about, only the South African Police Service (SAPS) are more widely seen as corrupt (by 56% of respondents). In addition, about one-third of citizens see 'some' officials in the Presidency (33%) and the SAPS (36%) as corrupt.

"The high level of perceived corruption within the Presidency might be, in part, attributable to the ongoing and widely publicised Zondo Commission, which is investigating state corruption during [former president, Jacob] Zuma's tenure, but whose proceedings might also impact public perceptions of the current president."

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