South Africa's Corruption Nemesis
A recent report highlights the urgent need for South Africa to implement reforms to combat state capture, reverse institutional decay, and restore confidence in the constitution. The biggest obstacle is the ruling African National Congress, which is beset by factional infighting.
JOHANNESBURG – On January 2, South Africans woke up to the news that the country’s parliament building was on fire. Just days later came the release of an 800-page report detailing rampant corruption and poor governance in South Africa. Then, several glass doors and windows were shattered at the Constitutional Court. It was an ominous start to the year for a country still mourning the loss of its “moral compass,” Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
The report – the first of three expected from the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture, known as the Zondo Commission after its chairperson, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo – confirmed what was long suspected: State capture is rampant in South Africa. Systemic political corruption benefited the influential Gupta family, for example, as well as a range of facilitators in the country’s civil service and ministries.
The report reveals patterns of abuse at almost every stage of public procurement. When professionals in government departments or state-owned enterprises resisted, they were replaced with more compliant officials. In the commission’s view, South Africa needs an independent anti-corruption agency that can perform its functions without fear or favor.