The Transparency International Corruption Perception Index (CPI) released this morning shows that South Africa has not turned the tide on corruption in the public sector.
South Africa now ranks 69th out of 187 countries included in the index. This represents a drop of five places from its 2011 ranking.
The index measures "perceived levels of public sector corruption" and considers factors such as bribery, abuse of public resources, secretive decision-making, anti-corruption laws and conflicts of interest.
Over the last 12 years there has been a consistent downward trend in South Africa's position on the index. We have dropped 31 places in the index between 2001 and 2012.
South Africa's slide down the CPI rankings has accelerated under the leadership of President Jacob Zuma. We have seen South Africa drop 14 places on the index between 2009 and 2012.
This is hardly surprising, given that the President himself had 783 charges of corruption against him, which were withdrawn under dubious circumstances.
President Zuma made a commitment to "accelerate the fight against crime and corruption" in 2009.
Yet, over the past year the government had a lacklustre response to public sector corruption:
• The President himself has been embroiled in the Nkandlagate saga;
• We are yet to see a permanent appointment to the position of head of the Special Investigating Unit (SIU);
• A report by the Public Service Commission (PSC) confirmed that serious corruption arises out of situations where public servants do business with the state - whilst the government refuses to adopt legislation which would make these cosy business deals illegal;
• The ANC has rammed the controversial Secrecy Bill through Parliament, despite serious objections from the opposition and civil society; and
• The Auditor General routinely points out violations of the Public Finance Management Act by accounting officers in government departments and yet very few criminal charges have been laid against the guilty officials.
As the custodians of the people's money and the parliamentary committee with oversight over public expenditure and financial management, the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) must take the CPI seriously and interrogate ways in which we can achieve a turnaround in our public service.
I will be writing to the SCOPA Chairperson, Themba Godi, to ask that the CPI is considered by the committee, that submissions are called from the public and civil society and that recommendations are made to Parliament on steps that can be taken to curb corruption in the public sector.
Dion George, SCOPA Standing Committee on Public Accounts