South Africa: The Mathematics of Corruption


In late October 2019, Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni revised down South Africa's estimated GDP growth for 2019 to 0.5% - from the 1.5% provided in the February Budget. This big decrease will have a negative impact on tax collection, sovereign debt service capability and business confidence in general. Ironically, the plunge may be a direct result of President Cyril Ramaphosa's actions to root out corruption.

On 14 October 2019, President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered the keynote address at the Financial Times Africa Summit 2019, assuring investors, politicians and business leaders gathered at Claridge's Hotel in London that plans are underway to ensure South Africa can take full advantage of growth opportunities on the African continent.

After delivering his speech, the president answered questions posed by Financial Times editor Lionel Barber, who noted, "the scale of corruption [in South Africa] was epic over the last 10 years". Ramaphosa voiced his agreement and, when pressed by Barber to put a number on the cost of State Capture, estimated it exceeded R500-billion.

Now, R500-billion - or $34-billion - is an enormous figure. And, sadly, the cost of corruption may well be as much as double that, according to some analysts. Also, R500-billion is...

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