Corruption: An impediment to development

South African flag blowing proudly in the wind, not even two weeks after the world cup and aleready reports of xenephobia. Heavy Police presence at Kaya Sands township north of Johannesburg, due to reports of Xenephobia last night. For now everything is calm but foreign residence are scared especially when night falls. Police will be manning the township during the night to stop any opportunistic crimes related to xenaphobia. Picture: Mujahid Safodien 20 07 2010

Increased corruption in the twenty-first century has meant increased gaps between the rich and the poor, therefore, proliferating inequalities in democratic South Africa. Historically, the Black people had experienced injustices, marginalization and exclusion to participate in broader domains of the society. 

The British colonial rule and later, the Apartheid regime suppressed the rights of the Bantu people so as to freely express themselves and to fully participate in the economy and the political engagements of the country. The full citizenship rights of the colonized were not realized.  Such instances had led to the formation of both the social and political organizations as a means to challenge the exclusionary authority.

When the African National Congress (ANC) finally defeated the Apartheid regime, new social policies came into effect and the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) was one such policies that aimed at addressing the injustices of the past thus ensuring justice, equality and the socio-economic development of the previously marginalized. 

The important thing to ask ourselves is if indeed the RDP did ensure equality in South Africa. Well, to some extent, certain provisions were made to address the past injustices such as housing and access to free education within the primary and the secondary schools for example. Although, this is not to say that the Apartheid government did not build houses for the poor and did not provide free education both at primary and secondary levels. Of course, they did and the houses that the Apartheid regime did build were of strong quality and most of them are still standing to this day.  

The constitution of South Africa as implemented within the democratic regime state that it’s in everyone’s right to access adequate housing. Although in a news article published by News24 in partnership with City Press published on the 26th April 2019, it was reported that the RDP house that was built for the sixty-two-year-old Sylvia Milisi in 2016 in the Eastern Cape province in the area of Santini in Gonubie had cracks and every time it rained, the house became flooded and surrounded by water. 

Taking from the above report, does this mean that the quality of the RDP houses is being compromised in democratic South Africa and if so at whose expense? It’s obvious to note that the quality of the Milisi house was compromised at the expense of the taxpayers. What does this tell us about development in South Africa? Can development still flourish in cases were corruption exist? Of course not.

In the context of South Africa, what is often referred to as the ‘State Capture’ under the Zuma regime, had proliferated inequalities and somehow affecting the developmental principles as enshrined in the RDP social policy plan.  The rich are getting richer and the poor are severely getting poorer. Unemployed levels had vividly risen and service delivery is a concern for most of the inhabitants. 

State Capture, if well understood, is a systematic political corruption through which the private business sector influences the decisions on how the government is to be administered for their own benefit. A report by Eyewitness News (EWN) that was published on the 5th of July 2019 stated that; the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Transnet and Eskom, Anoj Singh was suspended by the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants following an allegation of overpaying the R150+  million to the Regiments Capital Company. 

One of the impediments to socio-economic development is corruption. Corruption does not only affect the social order of society but the socio-economic activities through which the citizens need to be empowered. The PricewaterhouseCoopers (Pwc) company had indicated that in Africa, South Africa tolls the economic crime rate as the country stands at 69%. Economic crimes or corruption, in general, affects the development practices in any given country and at any given time. 

When the South African Treasury Department experienced a fraud of R233 billion, the South African state’s chief procurement officer, Kenneth Brown in response to the debacle stated that “we could be building more roads, more schools without even adding more money to the current budget”.   With the R233 billion that was fraudulently spent, the ordinary citizens of South Africa would have been uplifted through the construction of schools, roads or even housing as some of the social development policies of the RDP. With all the evidence that is given, one can, therefore, state that corruption affects the developmental objectives of South Africa. And that the citizens still experience the injustices and as such, their rights to full citizenship are not realized.

In my own personal accreditation, I believe that if justice and equality is to be realized in South Africa,   good governance is key. And for good governance to exist, decisive political leadership need to be enforced. It is true that democratic principles are based on the separation of powers so as to ensure checks and balances but in my own view, I believe that there must be an independent ‘Monitoring and Evaluation Agency’ in South Africa. 

Because of its independence, the agency will be able to monitor and to evaluate the activities of the government without political interference. This way will, without no doubt, hold the government personnel accountable thus ensuring that the rights of the citizens, as enshrined in the constitution and the social policy programmes are realized as opposed to the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation which can be biased and work for the benefits of the governing elite because the department is under authority the ruling party.

South Africa, with all its rich mineral resources, deserves better than where we are today. The mineral resources continues to benefit the monopoly white capitalists at the expense of the ordinary civilians something that needs to be changed.

Chuene Raphunga is a student at the Wits School of Governance.