n Journal of Public Administration - Is South Africa a global capital of corruption?

Volume 49, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0036-0767



This paper argues that the G20 is the fulcrum of global governance and wealth; and, that to qualify as a corruption capital of the world, a country would have to involve excesses beyond any those of the members of this "premier forum". In terms of a variety of power capabilities, command of resources and societal perceptions, including the human development index (HDI), trust-deficit in government and the corruption perception index score, a democratic South Africa does not fit the label of "a global capital of corruption". The paper uses the Nkandla Project debacle to demonstrate that the characterisation of South Africa as "a global capital of corruption" is a function of the overt nature of corruption and state opaqueness in handling public concerns, rather than sheer scale and volume of resources wasted in the graft. A democratic South Africa has indeed seen the blurring of politics with business in ways that agitated for heightened societal perceptions of public sector corruption. However, the societal trust-deficit against government in South Africa is not the worst in the world. The paper concludes that, notwithstanding the trust-deficit against national government, South Africa's command of resources and standing in the G20 and BRICS sets does not deserve characterisation as the global capital of corruption.

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