Transparency International’s rating of South Africa in the 2014 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) indicated a significant problem, Corruption Watch (CW) said on Wednesday.
The non-profit organisation said in a statement that South Africa scored 44 out of 100, where 0 indicates a perception that a country is highly corrupt.
Of the 175 countries scored, South Africa ranked 67th. Last year South Africa scored 42 and was ranked 72nd out of 177.
Corruption Watch executive director David Lewis said it would be a serious mistake to draw any comfort from the fact that South Africa had not slipped further in the index.
“Not far below us on the index are countries where corruption is endemic, where little can be done to turn around corruption.”
He said some key South African institutions showed characteristics of endemic corruption.
“Think of our criminal justice institutions. And think of the impunity enjoyed by leading public sector and private sector individuals, with the continuing Nkandla fiasco the clearest example of impunity enjoyed by the politically powerful.”
He was referring to controversy surrounding R246 million in so-called security upgrades to President Jacob Zuma’s private home in Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal.
Zuma claimed he did not ask for the refurbishments at his Nkandla home, which included a helipad, a swimming pool, an amphitheatre, and a chicken coop.
Public Protector Thuli Madonsela recommended in her report on the matter that Zuma repay a portion of the public funds spent on the upgrade.
“Indeed, given the growing controversy surrounding Nkandla and given the contempt displayed by the political and public sector leadership for a resolute anti-corruption fighter like the Public Protector, had the survey been conducted today, we may well have landed up with a significantly lower score.”
Most corrupt countries in the world
Corruption has increased in several of the world’s best-performing economies as rising growth has encouraged an abuse of power, Transparency International said.
“The 2014 Corruption Perceptions Index shows that economic growth is undermined and efforts to stop corruption fade when leaders and high level officials abuse power to appropriate public funds for personal gain,” said watchdog chair Jose Ugaz.
Transparency’s annual corruption index analyzes the abuse of power, secret dealings and bribery in a country’s public sector. High levels of corruption are indicated by a low score.
China, Turkey and Angola were among the most corrupt on the index, despite having recorded an average economic growth of more than 4 per cent over the last four years.
Denmark topped Transparency’s index with a score of 92 out of a possible 100, meaning that its public sector is considered to be “very clean.” North Korea and Somalia shared last place with an index score of eight.
Top 10 least corrupt countries
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Top 10 most corrupt countries
“Countries at the bottom (of the index) need to adopt radical anti-corruption measures in favour of their people,” Ugaz said. “Countries at the top of the index should make sure they don’t export corrupt practices to underdeveloped countries.”
Afghanistan, which is struggling to end a long-running conflict, was one of the surprises on the corruption index, Afghanistan rose 4 points this year.
China, which is the world’s second biggest economy, posted a score of 36 on the index – down four points from last year despite Beijing’s launch of a major anti-corruption campaign. Turkey dropped 5 points.
Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Saint Vincent, the Grenadines, Jordan, Mali and Swaziland were among the biggest winners in the 2014 index.
There was also good news for nations at the centre of the eurozone crisis, with Portugal, Spain and Italy edging up in the index. Greece made a big jump from the number 89 spot in 2013 to 69 this year.
Germany, Europe’s largest economy, retained its 2013 ranking of number 12 in the corruption index, while the United States rose by 2 points to the number 17 slot.