Corruption Watch

We live in a rotten, corrupt world


Not a single country in the world is completely corruption free according to an international perception index. Close to 60% of all countries scored below 50% on the scale and South Africa, at 45%, is just above the global average of 43%.

This is the picture that emerges from the just released Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) by Transparency International (TI).

Corruption is defined by TI as “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain”. The index has been going since 1995.

Not a single country gets close to a perfect score on the scale from 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean). The average score of the 176 countries surveyed is only 43% - more than two-thirds of the countries and territories in this year’s index scored below the 50%-mark.

Beyond the top ten the ratings quickly diminish. Just 54 of the 176 countries assessed in the 2016 CPI scored better than 50%.

South Africa scored 45% in position 64 on the index, just two percent above the average. This means that 112 countries did worse. However, this is of little consolation since it is stated that it is “the same bleak picture we’ve been seeing now for two decades ... except it’s getting worse”.

The data, however, shows that 85% of the global population now live under a corrupt government.

The top spot, on 90%, goes jointly to Denmark and New Zealand which, incidentally is a favoured emigration destination for South Africans. The regional top spot amongst the top ten countries,  go to Nordic countries. Besides Denmark, Finland on 89% is 3rd, Sweden on 88% is 4th and Norway on 85% is 6th. 

Southern Africa

In Southern Africa only two countries, Botswana on 60% (35th in the world) and Namibia on 52% (53rd in the world), are above the 50%-mark. South Africa  with its 45% score is in the third spot in the region.

Contrary to general perception Zimbabwe, on 22% and in 154th in the world, is not bottom of the pile in Southern Africa. That ‘honour’ goes to Angola on 18% and 164th ,  only 10 positions above the most corrupt nation in the world, Somalia.

Mozambique, on a score of 27% and globally in position 142, does not fare much better than its neighbour Zimbabwe. Zambia, with a score of 38% and in the 87th position, does slightly better, with Lesotho in the 83rd position on a 39% score.

SA emigration

It is interesting that countries favoured as emigration destinations for South
Africans, do generally well in terms of the rankings on the CPI. Besides New Zealand in the top spot, Australia comes in position 13 with 79%, the United Kingdom 10th on 81%, Canada 9th on 82% and the US 18th on 74%.

Interestingly, recent data published by StatsSA indicates that Germany has now become the 5th most popular destination for South African emigrants, many of them from the black population. Some 6% SA emigrants head for Germany. Australia, with 26%, remains the most popular, followed by the UK (25%), the US (13,4%) and New Zealand (9,5%).

The rest of the top ten destinations are made up by American Samoa (4,4%), United Arab Emirates (4,2%), Cuba (4%), Canada (3%) and China (2%).

Reality check

However, if people leaving South Africa (102 793 over the last 10 years) think they will totally escape the scourge of corruption, they are sadly mistaken.

As one analyst, CPI, has warned, just looking at the rankings of countries could be misleading.

“As most countries’ public sectors appear to be rotten, the rankings alone make many countries (the United States, United Kingdom and Australia in particular), look far more honest and transparent than they actually are,” he wrote.

The CPI is not a verdict on the levels of corruption of societies. It is an assessment of administrative and political corruption only. Citizens of those countries that score at the lower end of the CPI have shown the same concern about and condemnation of corruption as the public in countries that perform strongly.

TI is of the opinion - and data over the last two decades too shows - that globally the corruption picture is worsening. This is an important backdrop to the revolutionary climate building across the globe.

by Eve van Basten

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