Two-thirds of South Africans believe the most corrupt government officials are in the national police service, followed by those in the Department of Home Affairs – these are among the findings recently released as part of a Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) survey.
The study, on perceptions of corruption in the country, was conducted with the help of South African Social Attitudes Survey 2011 (Sasas), which sampled 3 057 South Africans from the ages of 16 years and older.
The results of the survey also indicate that about three-quarters (74%) of all South Africans believe the incidence of corruption has increased in the past three years, while 10% feel it has declined and 12% report that it has remained unchanged over the period.
“In recent years, there has been mounting attention and concern focused on corruption scandals involving the police, politicians and the nation’s business elite, to the extent that Public Protector Thuli Madonsela recently proclaimed that the country has reached a tipping point in its battle against corruption,” said the HSRC.
“The survey results show high levels of dissatisfaction with the problem and widespread support for tougher action.”
Corruption uppermost on our minds
“Freedom, security and justice are critical features of a democracy and have been enshrined in the Constitution. Corruption is seen as a major obstacle in realising these constitutional ideals,” the council states.
The survey reveals that despite government’s efforts, including a wide-ranging legislative framework and setting up a number of anti-corruption task forces, the public believe corruption is still a major societal concern.
In late 2011, 91% of South Africans agreed that corruption represents a major problem. Furthermore, many South Africans acknowledge that corruption is escalating in the country. In 2003, only 9% mentioned corruption in their list of the top three challenges facing the country, but this had increased to 26% by 2011.
“This professed aversion to corruption is not unique to South Africa and appears to be characteristic of nations that have undergone a transition to democracy in recent decades. Indeed, comparative results from Eurobarometer suggest that South Africans share a common concern over corruption with many post-transition nations such as former communist Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania,” according to the HSRC.