The world’s most and least corrupt countries – and where South Africa fits in

Transparency International has on Wednesday released its annual Corruption Perceptions Index, listing the least and most corrupt countries in the world.

Over two-thirds of the 176 countries and territories in this year’s index fall below the midpoint of the scale of 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean). The global average score is a 43, indicating endemic corruption in the public sector.

No country received a “perfect” score in 2016 with Denmark and New Zealand tied as the two least corrupt countries in the world, while Somalia and South Sudan made up the two most corrupt countries.

South Africa ranked 64 out of the 176 countries with a corruption rating of 45/100 – an increase over 2015’s 44/100. This indicates a slightly decreased level of corruption in the country after posting a record low of 42/100 in 2012.

However, the survey did note that South Africa had worryingly stagnated over the past couple of years and, despite hosting a successful election in 2016, showed few signs of improving.

It also expressly mentioned South Africa’s political troubles, noting that the score was largely affected by President Zuma’s appearance in court and the media for corruption scandals.

This included his own appeal against findings in a report by the Public Prosecutor Thuli Madonsela, regarding undue public spending in his private homestead in Nkandla.

Lower-ranked countries are plagued by untrustworthy and badly functioning public institutions like the police and judiciary, the report said.

Even where anti-corruption laws are on the books, in practice they’re often skirted or ignored. People frequently face situations of bribery and extortion, rely on basic services that have been undermined by the misappropriation of funds, and confront official indifference when seeking redress from authorities that are on the take.

The higher-ranked countries tend to have higher degrees of press freedom, access to information about public expenditure, stronger standards of integrity for public officials, and independent judicial systems.

Least corrupt countries

2016 Rank Country 2016 Score 2015 Score 2014 Score 2013 Score 2012 Score
1 Denmark 90 91 92 91 90
1 New Zealand 90 88 91 91 90
3 Finland 89 90 89 89 90
4 Sweden 88 89 87 89 88
5 Switzerland 86 86 86 85 86
6 Norway 85 87 86 86 85
7 Singapore 84 85 84 86 87
8 Netherlands 83 87 83 83 84
9 Canada 82 83 81 81 84
10 Germany 81 81 79 78 79
10 Luxembourg 81 81 82 80 80
10 United Kingdom 81 81 78 76 74

Most corrupt countries

2016 Rank Country 2016 Score 2015 Score 2014 Score 2013 Score 2012 Score
166 Venezuela 17 17 19 20 19
168 Guinea-Bissau 16 17 19 19 25
169 Afghanistan 15 11 12 8 8
170 Libya 14 16 18 15 21
170 Sudan 14 12 11 11 13
170 Yemen 14 18 19 18 23
173 Syria 13 18 20 17 26
174 Korea (North) 12 8 8 8 8
175 South Sudan 11 15 15 14 N/A
176 Somalia 10 8 8 8 8

Read: We are walking the talk on fighting corruption – Zuma

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The world’s most and least corrupt countries – and where South Africa fits in