Corruption in South Africa

 

Corruption puts South Africa in peril

 

When corruption becomes endemic, it is not just isolated individuals or parts of the economy that are undermined, but the rules of the game are changed possibly irreversibly. This can have far-reaching consequences  The body politic ails grievously as a result.  Corruption is putting the stability of South Africa’s democracy at risk.

Bribery could become the identifying character of this struggling country, whose early idealism has been so badly shaken. Corruption accounts (at least in part) for the loss of trust in its political system. Politicians who have lost sight of their purpose are easy targets of those that would corrupt them. To what extent is the loss of purpose of the ANC a cause of corruption and to what extent a consequence?

When a businessman is able to use his influence with the President to put his favoured politician into a political job, the point of the democratic system is compromised. If private interest rather than votes determine who rules a country, the public is disenfranchised. Principles of integrity and accountability at the heart of a democracy no longer apply. Democracy takes a jolt.

This has consequences that go beyond mere voting. Persuading people to obey laws when the system of making laws is tainted becomes impossible. Cynicism about the value and fairness of society itself is confirmed. Rising violence becomes an option when the democratic forum loses its credibility to settle the needs and anxieties of the poor, the alienated and the disenfranchised.

That is the deeper implications of the deleterious efforts, for example, of the Guptas, a business family in South Africa.

The destruction of social and democratic capital results from mere opportunist efforts to grab wealth. A fragile democracy and a poor population cannot afford such shocks.

The President selects his own appointees on the basis that they are (in his estimation) to the benefit of the country in an open democracy. Not a bunch of businessmen out for themselves and seeking secret advantage.

South Africa has a modern and well regarded constitution. No other group (from any part of society) can do more than lobby or recommend someone whose position  is determined by the President.

Their target was gaining secret advantage. Their goal was creaming commissions from state owned assets. Their instrument was a President and his cronies, who hold the keys to the public assets.

Daily revelations suggest that the payment of bribes in South Africa (and their international laundering) is of such a magnitude to both .diminish the society’s purse and its self-confidence.

The outing and public humiliation of the bribe payers and the recipients of the bribes is the only way for the democratic system to sustain itself in South Africa. We wait and see if those policing and controlling the country’s beloved constitution have enough healthy red and white cells to push out the cancer in its midst.

Facilitation Payments: Thin end of the wedge?

 

If you believe rules are made to be broken, you will favour and unashamedly accept facilitation payments. FPs are bribes that help the payer get round established rules. So a university requires a student to have a certain grade and you go to the head of the college and ask to endow a library to help your child who lacks the grade obtain entry to the college. The payment is merely facilitating him or her to jump the queue. In the case of the FP, the briber makes the approach, while the representative of the ‘system’ is prepared to break the rules of the institution.

The FP relates to a specific goal and specific institutional rules. It may seek to bring the payer an advantage but it is only an advantage to ensure the goal is met  Once the goal has been ‘facilitated’, there is no scope or need for further payment. That is not to say that the payer may not seek to blackmail the recipient of the bribe (who of course has taken the bribe secretly and can not therefore be disclosed as receiving it) into further breaches of his rules. But the recipient has taken the money with his eyes open and the buck stops with him.

 

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