Cross sectoral participation in the fight
against corruption can only be properly identified and shaped if
general consensus on a broader understanding of corruption and
concomitant broader and wider ranging strategies against corruption
are established. Such general consensus does not exist. Neither in
South Africa nor internationally. Ad hoc and isolated, though well-
meaning, measures will bring us nowhere.
An important practical step would be to develop general consensus on a
broader understanding of the problem of corruption and pursue the further practical
implications in the development of a comprehensive and creative anti-
corruption strategy and policy. These need to be accompanied by
effective preventative and control mechanisms in different contexts.
There is no nor should there be a blueprint for each situation.
following brief comments are aimed at assisting us towards a broader
understanding of the problem of corruption in South Africa and
globally as a basis for developing adequate and effective anti-
corruption strategies and mechanisms. The comments are suggesting
aspects of the issue which need to be factored in our understanding of
A WORD OF CAUTION
It is imperative to sound a word of
caution that, in the abstract, the word corruption has a very wide
Corruption is widely accepted as a reference to any thing,
person, situation etc. which changed for the worse. Hence it could be
said: that person has been corrupted; that principle has been
corrupted; the world and the moral fibre of our society is in a
process of decay and corruption; data in a computer has been
In general the use of the word corruption in this way is
certainly acceptable. However the development of practical policy and
mechanisms requires some agreed parameters without unduly restricting
or limiting the meaning of the word. On the other hand, due to the
fact that anti-corruption politics are so highly charged, the meaning
of the word corruption must not be stretched to become meaningless for
practical policy and practical purposes. Not everything unethical in
society should be seen as corruption.
CORRUPTION A SOCIETAL PROBLEM
The most basic aspect of understanding corruption is to understand it
as a complex and all-pervasive societal problem. Once this (mental and
conceptual) shift has taken place and internalised, our accepted
definitions of corruption not only assume wider and different
theoretical meaning. In addition these definitions prove to be more
helpful to address corruption and in developing more creative and
Corruption is widely accepted as:
The abuse of public power for private or sectional gain or sectional
Robert Klitgaard, formulates it as follows:
Corruption (C) = Monopoly (M) + Discretion (D) - Accountability (A)
The analysis of corruption
presented here is not regarded as definitive. It is aimed at unveiling
aspects of the problem which remain hidden in the dominant
understanding of corruption. As stated before, these aspects remain
largely untouched by policy processes aimed at addressing corruption.
Seemingly, the problem in understanding corruption is not in the first
place to agree on a definition of corruption. Definitions have the
curious history of defining certain things in and other issues out. A
more fundamental problem seems to one of an approach to and an
interpretation of such basic definitions. It is more important to
indicate which issues are covered by our understanding of corruption
or to indicate which issues are allowed to play a role in our
understanding of corruption.
For example, defining corruption as an
act by an official in the public sector (the abuse of public official
power for personal gain) needs to explain why for instance bribery in
an organ of civil society is not covered by that understanding of
The following factors in broadening our understanding of
corruption are worth exploring.
POWER AND POWER RELATIONS.
adage holds true: Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts
absolutely. Conversely, not all problems related to power should be
seen as corruption or ascribed to corruption.
Issues of power include
references to: military power; physical strength; position of
authority or leadership in an organisation or in society; political
power; economic power; cultural power; the power of information;
technological power; gender power; even just the power to put a stamp
on a document or hold a key to a cell door or the right to determine
prices and interest rates unilaterally. Issues such as these must be
factored into a profile of corruption.
For policy and strategy
purposes, the word corruption should become an innate reference to
problem areas in relation to the exercise of power or the functioning
of power relations. Of particular importance is the focus on problems
related to public power.
PUBLIC POWER AND RESPONSIBILITY.
is not only to be understood as public service or government power.
Public power is in the first instance referring to the exercise of
authority and responsibility. As such public power is vested in or
granted to individuals (e.g. leaders or managers, parents), groups
(e.g. Board of directors) and institutions (e.g. watchdog bodies,
police service, courts).
Such power must be exercised in the public
interest, i.e. to the benefit or well-being of those affected by
actions and decisions in exercising public power. Depending on the
position of the individual or institution, power is for example
exercised over employees, taxpayers, voters, customers, shareholders,
family members, communities, countries, families, sections of
populations, future generations, the environment, etc. These are
publics affected by power exercised, be that in the public sector,
private sector or in organs of civil society.
Public power is
exercised on a number of levels such as: family, clan, tribe, local
community, organisations, districts, provinces, national/country,
international and on trans-national level.
We should not forget that
cyberspace has also become part of our social reality. It has proved
itself not only as a means of communication and for obtaining or
exchanging information. It has become a (virtual) "place to meet". A
site to conclude various of transactions such a banking and shopping
(cyber-sex seems to be more of a real than virtual problem).
Cyberspace has irreversibly changed our understanding and experience
of our social reality, and poses a particular challenge for the
management of our society. Corruption and corruption-related practices
(e.g. money laundering) are unfortunately part of what happens in this
part or social reality as well.
PUBLIC POWER ABUSED FOR INDIVIDUAL OR SECTIONAL GAIN.
Instead of using public power to the benefit and well-
being of relevant publics it is used for selfish, greedy and ulterior
purposes. Ultimately such abuse of public power takes place, directly
or indirectly, at the expense of those supposed to benefit from
exercising public power and responsibility. Public power is abused for
individual gain of for sectional gain (e.g. my friends, my family, my
DIMENSIONS OF CORRUPTION
Two dimensions of corruption need to be
the micro (behavioural) dimension of corruption, and
the macro (structural) dimension of corruption
The micro or behavioural dimension of corruption captures the behavioural
aspects of corruption.
It refers to attitudes and actions of
individuals and/or (exclusive) groups in the different sectors and on
different levels of social reality in the abuse of public power for
personal or sectional gain. The amounts or extent of the loot or
illicit proceeds as a result of corrupt behaviour and attitudes should
not be regarded as an essential indicator. What is important is to
realise corrupt behaviour and attitudes constitute this dimension of
the problem. The expressions "petty corruption" and "grand corruption"
for example are used to indicate smaller (e.g. R50) and bigger (e.g.
R1bn) amounts of illicit gain.
It should be noted that this dimension
of corruption receives the most attention in reports and actions on
The macro or systemic dimension of corruption refers to
the structural dimension of the problem. We can also refer to it as
grand or systemic corruption. Grand or systemic corruption is that
aspect of corruption whereby social systems such as political,
organisational, economic, cultural, religious systems or
organisations, (on all the different levels indicated) operate in such
a way that power is allowed and justified to be abused for the
personal or sectional gain at the expense of the variety of victims
The grand or systemic dimension of corruption has not
received adequate attention in most definitions or discussions nor
reports and analyses on corruption. The term grand corruption is often
used merely as reference to cross border bribery. It is of particular
importance that we as South Africans should learn from our colonial
and apartheid past (e.g. the references to "petty apartheid" and
"grand apartheid" in order to be able to unpack this aspect of the
problem. Structural corruption must be put squarely on the table for
local and international anti-corruption discourse and strategy
developments. Undoubtedly, this dimension of the problem might cause
the most discomfort and controversy, even to many who are at the
moment very active in highlighting the problem of corruption and the
need to address it in all its forms and wherever it rears its head.
The disconcerting aspect of this dimension of corruption is the use
and abuse of power by the powerful economic and political players in
the international and transitional or global arena. Monopolistic,
discretionary and unaccountable practices and tendencies need to be
unpacked and cited as corruption per se. This matter receives some
attention in (calls for) organisational reform or transformation (e.g.
reforms in or transformation of the public service, departments or
units) under the general theme: reinventing the public service.
Further exploration and action are clearly needed by all anti-
The potentially controversial side of
this dimension might come to the fore when ideological differences
enter the stage to inform and guide analyses of problems and the
processes to address structural corruption on all levels. This
potential conflict should be brought to the surface or allowed to
surface and be addressed. If not, the dominant limited understanding
of corruption, with its undeniably conservative underpinnings and
deficiencies will prevail. No wonder that more fundamental critical
individuals and organisations often regard the issue of corruption as
(a luxury) item on a conservative, individualistic, behaviouralistic
agenda. Such attitude in effect aggravates the problem, as stated
earlier, by not challenging and broadening the popular and dominant
understanding of corruption and strategies to deal with it
differently. A more critical structural approach (with its
deficiencies) needs to enter the fray as well and co-own the problem
and contribute towards more and effective ways to combat corruption.
SOCIAL SECTORS AND LEVELS OF CORRUPTION
Corruption, even in its most
commonly known form of bribery, is not only a cross-sectoral problem
in the sense that it found in the public and private sectors and in
Corruption also occurs on different levels of society
or the social reality. This could range from individual or group
attitudes and behaviour, local community, provincial level, national
level, international (i.e. the relations between defined countries),
to the transitional or supranational levels (where national state
borders become incidental and almost irrelevant). As stated,
cyberspace should also be accounted for as part of our social reality.
The following illustrates this point graphically:
Figure 1: A mind map for visualising multiple level, sectoral and
cross-sectoral corruption in South
|Public sector||Private sector
|Personal actions and attitudes||Personal actions and
attitudes||Personal actions and attitudes|
|Local government||Local private enterprise||Community organisation
|Provincial||Provincial government||Private enterprise
operating on provincial level only or provincial structures of private sector
||Business operating on national level only or national structures
||National organisations or national structures|
|Governments outside South Africa and /
or inter-governmental bodies in relation to South Africa or South
Africa interacting with these institutions.
||Business outside South Africa interacting with South Africa or South African
and/or South African based business operating outside South Africa
organs of civil society and donors/partners interacting with South
Africa and/or South African organs of civil society interacting with
donors/partners and international affiliations or international
|Cyberspace||Use in this area||Use in this area
||Use in this area|
THE GAINS, PROFITS OR PROCEEDS.
Gains, profits or proceeds of
corruption are often seen as financial or material gain only. However
the gains or proceeds of corruption could be anything from financial
to social (special privileges), political (eg. power or position) and
economic (e.g. unfair competitive advantage).
Corruption is often regarded as "a victimless crime".
Such a view would mainly focus on an act of bribery where both sides are supposed to gain from
the transaction. Even a closer look at this position will indicate
that somewhere along the line someone or some group become the
victims, e.g. of poor quality of services or goods or even non-
delivery of goods and services (such as learners in schools receiving
poor quality books whilst others are not receiving school books at
all, or the construction of a house is below standard).
In view of the broader understanding of corruption indicated above, the victims
could be any or more of the publics mentioned earlier on. It is nevertheless
widely accepted that the poor are, in the main, the ultimate victims
of corruption. Notably the victims of this "victimless crime" hardly
ever receive attention in the understanding of corruption or in anti-
The significance of focusing on victims is:
Victims understand corruption the best, and do not have the luxury to
deal with corruption in a limited or selective manner nor should they
allow such a situation. Understanding and addressing corruption from
this end provides urgency to any anti-corruption drive.
Given the fact
that the greatest number of victims are the poor and the weaker
members or groups of society and that these are the ultimate victims
of corruption, the issue of corruption should be dealt within the
broader framework of pursuit for socio-economic justice.
SOCIO-ECONOMIC JUSTICE AND SOCIETAL VALUES
Understanding corruption and
commitment towards combating corruption should be driven by the
commitment towards bigger ideals of socio-economic justice and to be
part of the reconstruction of the moral fibre of society. South
African society in particular has to face this process in the
aftermath and legacy of our history of colonialism and apartheid. We
must also face new challenges posed by the post-apartheid society
coupled by the challenges to socio-economic justice posed by the
dynamics of globalisation and concurrent moral challenges in society.
If these challenges and values do not motivate us and others, then our
ideals and measures towards institutional transformation face the real
possibility of being meaningless and will fuel existing cynicism
regarding well-meaning and serious efforts in this direction. In this
way the generic meaning of the word corruption finds its function in
anti-corruption policy development.
There should be no doubt that the
social, political and economic phenomenon of abuse of public power for
private and sectional gain is much bigger than many are aware of or
are prepared to face. The challenge is that, either we tinker with the
toenails of a monster or face the scourge in all its forms, aspects
and dimensions as an undoubtedly multigenerational project. This
process has to begin somewhere.
CORRUPTION: THE CHALLENGES
In addressing the challenge of corruption the following issues are worth noting:
- Any strategy must give adequate account of its understanding of the
problem. The most fundamental flaw in any policy and strategy
development is an erratic or a limited structuring of the problem.
- No simple and fragmented, quick-fix, ad hoc solutions should be
attempted. Though what can and must be done immediately should be
done, as long as it is seen as part of a broader multi-pronged
- The one mistake that should be avoided is a too narrow
understanding and analysis of the problem. The preceding comments will
hopefully assist us in avoiding this difficulty.
- Strategies to address corruption should be as inclusive as possible in the sense
that as many role-players as possible should be allowed to play a part
in respective areas and levels of expertise.
Once we embark on an explicit and comprehensive initiative to address
corruption, we need to be alert on both local and international
conditions, politics or dynamics driving and impacting on anti-
corruption strategies in South Africa.
Some of the dynamics and problems are:
- There is a recurrent suspicion that the anti- corruption drive is a reactionary
and mainly white pre-occupation now
that we have a democratic and predominantly black government in place.
Questions often asked include: where was this drive against corruption
in the apartheid years? It therefore easily tends to be a black/white
A response to this is that the possibility of reactionary
sections and motives cannot be excluded. It is indeed strange that
many currently prominent voices were silent during the apartheid
years. This certainly affects the credibility of such voices and holds
the potential of casting anti-corruption initiatives in that mould.
However, careful analysis of all voices and initiatives should
indicate that the current mainstream anti-corruption drive is
motivated by the need to maintain the integrity of the transformation
process and to ensure the establishment of integrity in post-apartheid
What is often lacking in this drive is the lack of learning
from the past in citing corruption in the present situation. The fact
that apartheid was a massive social, political and economic form
(structure) of corruption (Monopoly + Discretion - Accountability) is
not adequately used to assess the current internal situation and
broader international dynamics. It is in this respect that note need
to be taken of corruption as a social systemic problem as well. It was
this form of systemic corruption which legitimised and covered-up
forms of corruption which often are not associated with corruption.
E.g. the killing of people by the state to maintain a corrupt system
was in itself an act of corruption. We as South Africans could be
accused of collective amnesia if our learning from our past is lost in
our analysis of the present-day situation. In addition it is this
process of learning from apartheid and colonialism as a powerful case
study in corruption which could and should also be a South African
contribution towards understanding corruption in other contexts but
also in the international theatre.
- One important aspect of the
international anti-corruption dynamic is the power relations between
North and South. This the broader dynamic is not adequately surfacing
in anti-corruption discussions and strategies. The current
international anti-corruption agenda is by and large dominated by the
North and myopic thinking in the North and in many ways uncritically
accepted in many an anti-corruption initiative in the South.
important aspect is that the economic and political abuse of power
towards weaker countries and economies in the South and its impact on
such countries have not entered the discourse or anti-corruption
strategies. This renders the Northern-driven anti-corruption drive of
a technicist emphasis on the public sector systems and actions of
individuals (politicians and civil servants) in the public sector
suspect. Questions to be asked include: to whom are strong
governments, multi-national companies and international financial
institutions accountable? Why would democracy be so high on the anti-
corruption agenda for the sake of global economic prosperity if the
current global political and economic environment (mostly benefiting
the countries in the North) is anything but democratic? What chance of
success would democratic political systems if the global and national
economic environments are not democratised as well? Why the big drive
towards good governance (in governments) and the reinvention of
government (and rightly so) is there is not an equally passionate call
and action towards the transformation of the global economy? Is it so
difficult to see that the disparities between poor and rich in the
world is not only due to corrupt governments or corruption in
"development" programmes? Ultimately the question is whether the
probably well-meaning Northern driven focus on corruption is not
perhaps part of the power play and abuse of power towards the South?
To say the least: initial impressions make it difficult to see it in
any other light.
Notably and to their credit, the governments of the
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) have
recently signed a convention against cross border bribery. However,
the dragging of feat to enact it in legislation sends a clear signal
about the levels of commitment to the convention. In addition, the
question is whether the OECD will be engaging with countries in the
South (e.g. the Non-Aligned Movement) to broaden their understanding
of corruption on national and transnational levels, rather than merely
urging these countries to become co-signatories of the convention.
Ultimately, why was the "non-OECD countries" not part of the process?
It is the responsibility of anti-corruption activists in the South and
anti-corruption initiatives from the South, also in South Africa, to
ensure that this dimension of the international problem of corruption
does surface in international anti-corruption discourse and strategy
developments. Constructive dialogue between the North and the South
need to be entered into. Such action from the South should not be
executed in a way that may create the impression as an attempt towards
a denial or watering down of the scale and impact of the problem in
our own societies.
Given the broadened understanding of the nature, extent and impact of corruption as a
societal issue and the politics surrounding an anti-corruption
initiative, the suggested development of a South African integrity
strategy and system of
against corruption must be explored.
The challenge put to the cross-sectoral task team would be to lay the
foundation towards developing, establishing, strengthening and
sustaining such a strategy.
An integrity strategy is a statement of a positive approach towards dealing
with the issue of corruption. It positively states that the strategy is aimed against
corruption for integrity (including issues such as transparency, accountability, good
governance, etc.) towards socio-economic transformation and justice.
An integrity strategy would include:
- Regulatory frameworks. This part or aspect of an integrity strategy is to
develop systems and procedures internal to organisations ensuring integrity. It refers to
adequate measures such as the constitution, laws, policies and
procedures. The aim is to establish or promote integrity (personal,
organisational and societal values) and good governance in the
different sectors and applicable to different levels as indicated in
the mind map. Such organisational initiatives hold the potential of
contributing to the building and restoration of integrity in society
at large as well.
A first glance at the South African situation
indicates that quite a lot has been put in place in this area already.
As far as government is concerned the Constitution and the Bill of
rights, the law forcing politicians and senior public service managers
to declare their assets, the anti-corruption Act of 1992, the Act on
the forfeiture of proceeds of crime (and corruption) are just a few
examples. Clearly there is obvious room for improvement in some of the
laws and their application. The resolution at the National Anti-
Corruption Summit to provide an audit and review of all legislation
relevant to dealing with corruption should be seen as a step in this
direction. A well packaged set or sets of Acts and policies need to be
developed. Acts like the Labour Relations Act and the Employment
Equity Act should be seen as part of such a package. Legislation
should also include participation in regional and international
treaties and conventions against corruption and enactment in law.
Different initiatives to improve policies and procedures in the
private sector and in organs of civil society addressing good
governance are in place or in different phases of development. Such
developments need to be encouraged and consolidated.
- Institutional or statutory mechanisms. These mechanisms are aimed at ensuring
integrity in areas such as decision making on, monitoring and
implementation, evaluation and revision of regulatory frameworks (e.g.
parliaments, councils, boards, executive committees, independent
statutory bodies). They are also there to ensure proper functioning of
integrity and good governance within organisations in all sectors but
also in society at large.
South Africa is well endowed with such institutions and mechanisms.
As for the state these include the Constitutional Court and other courts of law;
anti-corruption agencies such as the Auditor General, the Public Protector, the Independent
Directorate for Serious Economic Crimes, the Police Anti-corruption
unit, the Commercial Branch of the Police, the Independent Complaints
Directorate in the Police, the Heath Investigation Unit, the Public
Service Commission and in particular the Chief Directorate Ethics,
Public Accounts Committees on different tiers of government, standing
committees of different government portfolios or issues, various
chapter 10 Statutory Commissions (e.g. Human Rights Commission,
.Gender Commission, Youth Commission to name a few)
In the private
sector there are almost innumerable ombuds offices, regulatory boards
and organisations for a wide variety of sectors and professional
services aimed at ensuring integrity in the private sector.
As for the
numerous organs of civil society Boards, Trustees or Councils are
generally the mechanisms to ensure integrity and good governance. In
addition networks, coalitions, forums on national, provincial and sub-
regional levels are established to play some monitoring role vis-à-vis
the participants or members of such co-ordinating bodies.
fact that these institutions do formally exist, corruption is rife in
all sectors of society. Without attempting to over-legislate or over-
structure society there are clear needs to be addressed in this area.
Some of these include:
- The required will to address corruption in all its forms by all role players.
- Lack of support systems, mechanisms to protect whistle blowers.
- Lack of adequate incentives for whistle blowers
- Problems related to the independence of some of these institutions
- Lack of capacity, particularly in statutory anti-corruption mechanisms
- Lack of co-operation and coherence particularly in state institutions
resulting in fragmentation and duplication of efforts and capacity.
- Informal (non statutory) bodies and networks. This aspect is a "third
element" consisting of a variety
of role players and actors in the public and private sector and organs
of civil society (e.g. political parties, media, religious bodies,
human rights institutions, sports bodies, watchdog bodies, NGOs, CBOs,
employer organisations, labour unions, educational and research
The idea is to develop an unregulated multiplicity of
interactions between relevant role players be that individuals or
formal and informal organisations in any given area. The rationale is
to acknowledge in a practical manner the complex nature of corruption.
It also recognises, encourages and creates room for the rich
multiplicity of contributions by a variety of role players in their
respective areas of expertise. Ultimately it allows for an organic and
dynamic process of social engineering to address the problem in
something of a social front against corruption. The anticipated result
would be to provide creative and lateral options, beyond "a legalistic
and bureaucratic approach of discipline and policing" for dealing with
corruption in our country and beyond our borders.
Once again, the
rationale for this overall approach is that corruption is a very
complex and broad ranging, cross cutting, systemic and societal
problem. As a result a comprehensive and coherent anti-corruption
strategy should be developed as a massive process of social
engineering or transformation. It should be acknowledged that no
single individual, group, organisation or institution can deal with
corruption comprehensively and effectively on its own. All efforts
need to be seen as part of a broader strategy and dynamic.
It is the task of the multi-sectoral task team emanating from the National Anti-
Corruption Summit to develop such a strategy.
Finally strategies and
mechanisms to address the problem in preventative and reactive as well
as in hard and softer ways need to be included. The idea is to hit
high, wide and deep. Both hard and soft.
The responsibility of the
cross-sectoral task team will be to establish a management structure
and process to manage an organic nature of such an integrity strategy
In view of the above some of the major
and fundamental anti-corruption policy challenges are:
- To reach generic consensus on the nature and extent of corruption both locally
and internationally, at least transcending the myopic and questionable
preoccupation on the public sector, without letting it off the hook in
- To identify the composition of a South African integrity
systems on national, provincial and local levels.
- To agree on ways
and means to make an integrity system work in an effective and co-
ordinated integrity strategy, on national, provincial and local
- To ensure that processes are in place to give effect to such
- To play our role in relevant international processes to
combat corruption as a global problem.
- To identify broad areas of work and responsibility by different role players.
- To establish adequate formal and informal measures for variety of research,
monitoring, and policy intervention initiatives.
- To ensure the independence of the initiative to remain a citizens:state initiative.
As far as its accountability to government is concerned, it should be
accountable to parliament as agreed in the National Anti-corruption
CIVIL SOCIETY AND CORRUPTION
As indicated before, quite a lot of
attention is often given to the actions of the state and state
institutions in anti-corruption discussions. Very little attention and
recognition is given to the position and the potentially powerful
contribution of civil society in anti-corruption strategies both
locally and internationally.
Part of the reason is that the focus in
anti-corruption strategies has been on the role of the state and
addressing the problem internal to the public sector. Civil society
receives attention in this respect as a watchdog of the state and/or
as a critical partner rallying around government. Again we see the
influence of a limited understanding of the nature and extent of
corruption and a limited view on adequate strategies in dealing with
It is important to realise that civil society is both
part of the problem and holds potential to be part of and ally in a
PART OF THE PROBLEM
One is often appalled by
the extent and forms of corruption in different organs of civil
society. Therefore cognisance has to be taken of the prevalence of
corruption in civil society and as such being part of the overall
problem of corruption in our society. The occurrence of corruption in
civil society include:
- Attitudes and actions of citizens (individuals and groups) regardless of the
sector in civil society or the level on which the problem occurs.
- The way different organs of civil society are functioning.
- Mismanagement of funds and other assets of an organisation
- Harassment and other threatening behaviour by persons and structures of
authority, particularly towards actual and potential whistleblowers.
- Lack of accountability towards stakeholders like staff, boards, members,
(supposed) beneficiaries, donors, etc.
- Donors demanding accountability and transparency from organisations, but not
displaying the same or similar levels of transparency towards recipient organisations.
- Donors abusing the power of money to interfere unduly in the management and agenda of an
Unfortunately very little hard information is publicly
available on the extent and impact of corruption in civil society.
point is taken that during our recent past much "struggle bookkeeping"
took place in civil society, as a reference to the fact that
circumstances did not always warrant the required standards of
accountability and transparency. In fact proper accountability and
transparency could and in fact did put the lives of people and the
existence of organisations at risk. Such a situation does not exist at
the moment. The struggle against apartheid was not meant to be a
reason for abuse of power by anyone or any structure, be that during
the time of the struggle or during the current dispensation. It should
also be noted that "struggle bookkeeping" took place in the public
sector and in the private sector, such as accounting for expenses
related to "sanctions busting".
Much work will have to be done to
develop a profile on the forms, nature and extent of corruption in
civil society in general and with reference to different sectors of
civil society (e.g. service delivery, education, sports, religious
bodies, media, youth groups, women's groups, community organisations,
political parties, unions, employers organisations, etc.).
PARTICIPANT IN SOLUTIONS
Civil society also has the obligation to deal with the
issue of corruption as a new area of formal and informal social
activism. This should be seen as in line and interlinked with
initiatives on a variety of social issues such as: racism, gender
issues, religious concerns, development/transformation of society,
democratisation, socio-economic justice, consumer issues, the debt of
the South, environmental concerns, HIV/AIDS, etc.
South Africa is in
the fortunate position that it has a wealth of different types of
institutions and organisations seen as organs of civil society, as
indicated above. All of these could and should make a contribution
towards addressing this complex and all-pervasive problem.
comprehensive and properly managed integrity strategy in the country
would assist different role players in this sector to realise their
current and potential role in terms of their expertise and areas of
focus. In fact much of the suggested activities mentioned below are
already taking place. The area of further focused networking and
explicit participation in a comprehensive anti-corruption initiative
needs to be realised.
Some of the work that can be done by organs of
civil society (media included) could be:
- Identify the issue of corruption as an area for social activism.
- Take explicit and visible steps to put its own house in order as far as it is part of the
problem of corruption.
- Different organisations and formations commit
themselves towards playing their roles in local, provincial, national
regional and international networks of integrity against corruption.
- Outcome-oriented networks of anti-corruption initiatives,
organisations and structures in civil society with the same or similar
focus areas to co-operate as far as possible and augment each one's
efforts. e.g. religious communities, sports bodies, women's
organisations, developmental organisations, research organisations,
consumer bodies, educational institutions and organisations, unions,
- Outcome oriented networking with relevant
institutions and individuals in the public and private sector on
- Policy interventions. On the one hand internally
to organs of civil society (e.g. to improve internal systems and
cultures of integrity and individual behaviour), and externally
towards the public sector (e.g. relevant policy and legislation on
different tiers and departments and agencies of government, political
ethics, public sector ethics) and the private sector (e.g. on
corporate governance, business ethics, economic ethics).
- Monitoring and research. Each citizen has the obligation to monitor the abuse of
power as encountered. Adequate and trusted complaint structures (e.g.
toll free numbers) could be put be in place and managed. Different
types of research can be done from collecting raw data, investigative
research, case studies, best practices, prominent failures, analyses
of trends and tendencies towards policy research . The scope of the
problem could also indicate the need to broaden the scope for research
and monitoring beyond the narrow focus of the public sector, as is
currently the case. In fact, as implied in the preceding discussions,
we have not even begun to understand the phenomenon of corruption.
What we know is said to be the ears of a hippopotamus. The question
is: How do we know these are ears and whether these are the ears of a
There is therefore space and a role to be played by
different individuals, research institutions, journalists, the media
etc. Corruption-related research is still by and large untapped apart
from "high profile" public sector and private sector scoops. Research
in corruption should not only be on corruption taking place but also
on what is being done about it (good governance), whether anything is
being done, and what can or should be done. It should also include the
development and use of practical tools to address corruption.
awareness. Different focus groups could in their own way undertake or
participate in public awareness campaigns by different means (posters,
stickers, leaflets, reports in the media, publications, etc.). Of
particular importance here are community based organisations
(including political parties) to mobilise a responsible groundswell
against all forms, aspects and dimensions of corruption. It would be
vital to ensure that public awareness and public discourse and actions
to follow be well informed and to go beyond public outcry and public
hysteria, mudslinging or political point scoring. Results of research
and monitoring therefore need to be accessible to people in terms of
content, format, language etc.
- Support services and networks to
victims of corruption and whistleblowers. Such victims are often
traumatised and need psychological counselling, strategic and legal
advice and legal assistance. Therefore counselling services, legal and
paralegal bodies, advice centres, mediation services etc. should play
a part here as well. In case there is no formal protection service
available, civil society may have to think of such a service as well
or if and where it does exist to act in partnership with such
services. The importance of support services and networks to victims
of corruption and whistleblowers (citizens, journalists, civil
servants, workers, managers, etc.) is to provide an incentive for
standing up against corruption. Otherwise the personal or even
societal will to act against corruption will be jeopardised.
- Training and education. Corruption and corruption related issues could
for a start be incorporated in existing training and education
initiatives such as civic education, human rights education, voter
education, democracy education, good governance training, integrity
training, ethics training, by different programmes and organisations
in civil society. Joint ventures with departments of education (for
schools), management training, occupational training institutions
could be undertaken. Different types of material and mediums of
presentations must be developed to suit different target groups. Such
training should ideally not be stand-alone modules, but integrated
into broader training related to ethics and good governance.
- Develop and promote best practises. The promotion of best practices (locally
and internationally) could be part of research, public awareness and
material for education and training. Give prominence to actions of
individuals and initiatives in different sectors that do not make the
media or which might need more attention. The unsung heroines and
heroes need recognition and to serve as encouragement that something
can be done.
- Civil society can and must play its role as part of a
broader integrity strategy against corruption. It is hoped that such
efforts should not be restricted to or exclusively focused on South
Africa. They should connect with similar initiatives and actions
internationally. We must learn from what is done in other contexts and
develop much more of a culture of solidarity with others, as others
had with us. On the other hand, South Africa can and must play its
role in sharing our experiences with others whereby we may just make a
positive contribution towards efforts in contexts outside the country.
- Civil society should ensure that it is formally recognised as an
essential role-player in developing, implementing and sustaining an
anti-corruption strategy. Civil society should not allow a situation
whereby it is treated as an afterthought or be on board for the sake
of political correctness.
- Finally, organs of civil society can only
play their role if adequate capacity and pools of resources (funds,
skills, human resources) are developed and are in place. In this
respect civil society should demonstrate the will and commitment to
take on corruption as an area of activism. Local and foreign donor
bodies should therefore render serious attention and substantial
support to initiatives and activities in civil society as part of the
capacity to make a comprehensive anti-corruption strategy viable and
It is gratifying to note that movements towards addressing
corruption in a more systematic and coherent manner are beginning to
develop. The National Anti-Corruption Summit and the role that civil
society played in the run-up and during the summit is an important
step in this direction. The explicit inclusion of representation of
civil society in the inter-sectoral task team provides an opportunity
for civil society to play its role in the emerging anti-corruption
Notes and References
The matrix does not represent an accurate map of the problem, but should rather
be regarded as a heuristic tool to conceptualise the nature, extent, occurrences,
dimensions, trends and tendencies of corruption and good governance in the country
The concept of an integrity system is borrowed from the general thrust of Transparency
International's (TI) programmes and as elaborated in the TI SOURCE BOOK. However the
source book unfortunately still reflects the dominant understanding of corruption as,
in the main, a problem in the public sector. A discourse on this matter is taking
place within this network. TI-SA is one of the actors trying to stimulate and promote
this discourse. The use of terminology here is therefore also an attempt at reinterpreting
this very useful concept and strategic approach.