The country we would like to live in: A call for stronger anti-corruption actions in South Africa

A call for stronger anti-corruption actions in South Africa. Photo: UNODC16 December 2016 - "Our vision for 2030 is a South Africa which has zero tolerance for corruption, in which an empowered citizenry have the confidence and knowledge to hold public and private officials to account and in which leaders hold themselves to high ethical standards and act with integrity. This South Africa has a resilient anti-corruption system in which anti-corruption agencies have the resources, credibility and powers to investigate corruptions and their investigations are acted upon." - National Development Plan of South Africa

This year, the International Anti-Corruption Day (IACD) was celebrated in South Africa under the national slogan "In Partnership towards a National Anti-Corruption Strategy". On the International Day, a meeting was organized to officially launch the broad national consultations on the discussion document for the development of a new Anti-Corruption Strategy. The document is expected to set key elements of the National Development Plan and commitments of the Government into the practical motion by addressing corruption. 

The Government of South Africa faces a growing demand from all sectors of the society to strengthen national anti-corruption efforts.  Public trust in the Government is becoming increasingly dependent on its ability to hold the public officials accountable. 

 Jeffrey Thamsanqa Radebe, Minister in the Presidency and the Head of Anti-Corruption Task Inter-Ministerial Committee"Corruption, in both the private and public sectors, has got a detrimental effect on our country's development and the government's efforts to effectively deliver services to its people", said Jeffrey Thamsanqa Radebe, Minister in the Presidency and the Head of Anti-Corruption Task  Inter-Ministerial Committee.  He called for a joint action of the Government, business, labour and civil society to "deliver a crashing blow against this spectre of corruption". He invited all to contribute to the development of a new National Anti-Corruption Strategy to be developed in the course of 2017 on the basis of nation-wide transparent and inclusive consultations.

David Lewis, Executive Director of Corruption Watch South Africa, highlighted the high level of mistrust that civil society has towards national authorities and called for a  through and careful consultation process to ensure people's buy-in. Once the strategy has been developed, it should be complemented by rigorous implementation plan.  

For her part, Theodora Steele, from the Congress of South Africa Trade Unions (COSATU), requested that the consultations be taken to the rural areas and township where the workers and communities affected by corruption can also provide inputs. The importance of whistle blower protection was specifically emphasized.

Having communicated the global statements of UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, and of UNODC Executive Director, Yury Fedotov,  on the occasion of the AICD,  Zhuldyz Akisheva, UNODC Regional Representative for Southern Africa, emphasized that a transparent and inclusive consultation process for the development of a new National Anti-Corruption Strategy provides a great opportunity for South Africans to "Unite Against Corruption". It comes at the right time, as South Africa starts working on domestication of new Sustainable Development Goals, which can be hardly achieved without rigorous anti-corruption measures.

UNODC booth at the national anti-corruption meeting. Distributing the National Anti-Corruption Strategies: A Practical Guide for Development and Implementation.

The 9th December event was organized by the Public Service Commission of South Africa, the University for South Africa (UNISA) and UNODC Regional Office for Southern Africa. Apart of officially launching the consultation process for NACS, the meeting was instrumental as a forum for open discussion on the challenges that South Africa faces in addressing corruption. The event was attended by senior level representatives of national authorities, including elements from South Africa Police Services, National Prosecution Authorities, Gauteng Municipality, as well as from labour and business organizations, academia and mass media.

The exhibition on publications and materials to raise awareness on different aspects of corruption was organized on the margins of the meeting. The National Prosecution Authority, South African Police Services, Revenue services, UNISA and other national institutions organized dedicated stands on anti-corruption work. 

Background information

South Africa signed UNCAC on 9 December 2003 and became a State Party on 22 November 2004. The first review of South Africa's implementation of UNCAC, undertaken by Mali and Senegal, was completed on 16 November 2012. This review focussed on the criminalization and international cooperation chapters of UNCAC. The second review of South Africa's implementation of UNCAC will take place between July 2019 and June 2020. This review will focus on the corruption prevention and asset recovery chapters.