By: Adebimpe Ofusori
The word corruption is coined from the Latin word “corruptus,” which connotes “corrupted”. Legally, it is referred to as abuse of a trusted position with the purpose of illegally obtaining material benefit for personal or other uses. There are many major factors responsible for the decline in economic growth in South Africa. Top on the list is corruption. Corruption has been a major economic setback to so many African countries including South Africa. In fact it is often regarded as “the evil” that negatively affect the developmental strides in public administration as well as in the political system. Corruption has been with us for ages and rather than been driven to obscurity, the perpetrators are quick to evolve new tactics to keep “the evil” going and to cover up their antics. For developing countries, the influence of corruption on economic growth cannot be overemphasized as the general perception about its detrimental effects is so enormous. In recent years, the government of BRICS countries has been confronted with lots of task on how to abate corruption. The acronym ‘BRICS’ represents a grouping of emerging economies comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Out of these countries, Russia has the highest corruption perception compared with other BRICS member countries.
South Africa has also, started to experience a gradual increase in the corruption perception in recent times. According to information documented in The Conversation, South Africans are not the happiest people due to continuous increase in the level of corruption and public sector incompetence. This has led to protest one time or the other in the country due to the negative economic impact on the citizens. Rather than having a decline in the rate of corruption, there has been a continuous increase which is perceived to be due to mild or nonexistence of consequence management to serve as deterrent to others; this has further emboldened the perpetrators. South Africa is the third-most miserable economy on earth according to Bloomberg’s Misery Index, which ranks major economies by inflation and unemployment expectations. South Africa’s worse economy is behind that of Venezuela and Argentina. Although there seem to be improvement in the inflation rate of around 2.2% being the lowest in 15 years, the unemployment rate as announced officially is put at 30% which is the highest in a decade. Estimation by the government suggest that between 3 and 7 million people could lose their jobs this year. This negative effect will be largely bore by the poor within the society and it is unlikely this economic hardship will reverse soon due to the current global pandemic (COVID-19) which has further plunged the South Africa’s ailing economy into distress. Even in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic, corruption was still been perpetrated as reflected in the misappropriation of the relief funds which were meant to procure PPE and alleviate the sufferings of vulnerable households, farmers and small businesses. This actually became worrisome to President Cyril Ramaphosa who had earlier vowed to fight against every form of graft in the country.
Corruption thrive depending on morality, professional ethics political and economic environment. Observation from various quarters have shown that corruption is very harmful not only to humans but also to the society due to its effect on other pressing Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) agenda developed by the United Nations. This SDG agenda which is made up of 17 goals, is designed to protect the planet and improve the living conditions of its inhabitants. Corruption escalate into unemployment, reduction in tax revenue, decline in business operation and ultimately, collapse of the economy. Statement credited to Marianne Merten in Daily Maverick emphasized on the negative impact of State Capture and grand corruption in South Africa before and after the Zuma-Gupta presidency. Particular reference was made on the fact that a third of South Africa’s R4.9-trillion gross domestic product has been wiped out thus culminating into lack of job creation and poor delivery of essential social programmes and services. This is particularly of concern if resources meant for important sectors such as health and education are compromised. This will affect the quality of health, learning and social wellbeing of the people most especially the low-income earners.
Effect of different types of corruption on economic growth in South Africa
Some of the Implications of Corruption on Economic Growth
The implication of direct effects of corruption on economic growth are enormous. They include but not limited to:
In conclusion, for any country such as South Africa to have a robust economy, there must be a reorientation of the mind by everyone regarding corruption. Now that we have known the terrible effects of corruption on the South African’s economy, we all must be willing to sacrifice and do our best for the betterment and future of our dear country irrespective of the position we occupy in the society. Giving or taking of any form of undue gratification in the form of bribe should be seen as unlawful and discouraged in its entirety. Public officer should realize that the position they occupy is a position of trust and should not be abused. The anticorruption framework should be strengthened and backed up by enabling laws to ensure proper enforcement. Also, whistleblowers should be adequately protected and rewarded to ensure prompt report of any form of corrupt practices. All public officers must be made to account for their stewardship after serving their terms and anyone found culpable should be promptly prosecuted and if possible banned from holding any public office in future.
Dr. Esther Adebimpe Ofusori is a researcher at the School of Chemistry and Physics, University of KwaZulu Natal, Durban, South Africa.