The Ethics Institute in association with Massmart has published its annual South African Citizens’ Bribery Survey for 2017.
The aim of the survey is to better understand the bribery challenges that ordinary South Africans face on a daily basis, their beliefs about bribery, and the socio-economic factors that influence bribery. This is the third consecutive year that the EI has conducted the survey.
“Over the years, during the course of our ethics training sessions, we have observed a strong narrative regarding the influence that leaders have on the ethical environment, and specifically the fact that people look to leaders to role model desirable behaviour,” the report said.
“In the context of bribery and corruption, we therefore wanted to find out whether people truly care about the commitment that leaders show to combating corruption, and also which leaders they see as showing the strongest commitment.”
The survey was conducted through face-to-face interviews across South Africa. The sample represented people from five of South Africa’s nine provinces, mostly in major urban centres around the country.
According to the report, bribes for tenders contributed 6% of all bribes.
However the report warned that it should be kept in mind that this is a general citizens’ survey, and the picture may have been very different had it only interviewed business people.
Although fewer instances of tender-related bribes were mentioned, the average bribe value for tenders – R82,282 – was significantly higher than the amount paid for other bribe types.
The cheapest bribe type was for traffic offences, at an average of R205. This might also explain why there are so many instances of this kind of bribe occurring.
All other bribe types have averages ranging from R999 to R6,480. While not as high as bribes for tenders, these are not insignificant amounts for everyday citizens, the report said.
“We have to bribe”
About half of participants (51%) indicated that it is possible to get through everyday life in South Africa without paying a bribe.
“While this is positive, it is quite disturbing that the other half either believe it is not possible (42%) or they have their doubts (7%),” said the report.
“It is also of concern that the percentage of people who feel that they cannot get through life without paying a bribe is on the increase,” it said.
A new addition to this year’s survey also looked at which political parties were most committed to fighting corruption in South Africa.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) was mentioned by almost half (45%) of participants as the party most committed to combating corruption in South Africa. The DA was followed by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) at 28% and the African National Congress (ANC) at 19%. The remainder is made up of smaller parties who all received below 2% of mentions.
The leaders identified as most committed to combating corruption were Julius Malema and Mmusi Maimane, who were mentioned by 18% and 17% of respondents respectively. Over 500 leaders were mentioned in response to this open-ended question, and no other leader received more than 10% of mentions.