Cape Town – While South Africa improved its score in the latest corruption index, there are still six sub-Saharan African countries that have a cleaner bill of health.
That is the warning from Corruption Watch, after Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index showed South Africa had improved its ranking marginally from 2015.
Its rank in relation to the 176 countries reviewed in 2016 fell three places from 61st to 64th, but its score improved by one point from 44th to 45th (the lower the score the more corrupt a country is perceived to be).
Ranked on 35th, Botswana is seen as the cleanest country in the SSA region.
“It is noteworthy that six sub-Saharan African countries fared better than South Africa, with Botswana once again topping the African charts, followed by Cape Verde, Mauritius, Rwanda, Namibia and São Tomé and Principe. South Africa and Senegal shared seventh place,” Corruption Watch said in a statement on Wednesday.
Somalia, followed by South Sudan, is seen as the most corrupt on the entire index, but showed an improvement in the low scores. Sudan and Libya are not far behind, tied in 170th place.
“The good news is that our score and ranking has remained more or less stable,” David Lewis, executive director of Corruption Watch, said.
“The bad news is that, with our score below 50, we are still among those countries deemed to have a serious corruption problem.
“Moreover, had the survey not been conducted before several serious corruption episodes came to the attention of the public – for example, the shocking ‘State of Capture’ report – our position may well have deteriorated significantly.”
South Africa was seen as far less corrupt than its Brics partners. Brazil, China and India all scored 40 and ranked 79th on the index, while Russia scored 29th, ranking 131 out of 176.
'Russian suppliers should be prohibited from participation'
“South Africans should be particularly concerned at Russia’s performance,” said Lewis. “This is the country that is strongly rumoured to be the government’s favoured partner in the proposed nuclear energy deal.
“Public procurement of this scale with a country as riven by corruption as Russia is guaranteed to import further corruption on a grand scale into this country. If this ill-considered project goes through, Russian suppliers should be prohibited from participation.”
South Africans might well ask why the country’s positioning is not a lot worse, said Lewis, “given the scale of petty and grand corruption, and the lack of positive leadership from key institutions such as the presidency, important departments of state, the Hawks, and the National Prosecuting Authority”.
“The answer is to be found in the intensity of public opposition to corruption,” he said. “The outrage expressed by civil society organisations, ordinary members of the public, and the independent media has galvanised a range of other individuals and institutions into action.”Read Fin24's top stories trending on Twitter: