The South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) note with serious concern the picture painted by the Corruption Perception Index (PPI) 2021. Though others may argue that the method used to assemble the index is limited and represents biased views as it collects these perceptions from businesspeople and experts, reality in the public sector affirms these perceptions partially.
The PPI uses a scale of 0 – 100, with those at 100 being clean and those at 0 highly corrupt. The scale shows that the rest of the African continent has a high perception of corruption, with North Africa scoring an average of 39/100 and Sub-Saharan Africa scoring 33/100.
South Africa scored 44/100. Though most of the times at a great cost of lives (as demonstrated in the assassination of Babita Deokaran) and livelihoods (as in the case of Mosilo Mothepu who struggled to find employment) of whistle-blowers, the public sector corruption is moderately documented in South Africa.
Today, because of Mosilo Mothepu, Trillian was exposed to have laundered money out of Eskom,l; Themba Maseko helped reveal the Gupta plan to turn the government advertising into their cash cow; and in the ongoing case around what is dubbed the Covid-Corruption, it is through Babita Deokaran that we now know R332 million meant for the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in Gauteng’s Health Department was squandered.
The former Chief procurement Officer at Treasury, Kenneth Brown, indicated that 35 – 40% of government procurement budget is lost to irregular tendering and outsourcing. But SAFTU has always maintained that public sector does not do corruption with itself. Officials in the public sector always do corruption with private business through tenderprenuership and outsourcing. Even though this may be crony driven corruption, ‘comrades’ always encourage their children, friends, girlfriends, boyfriends and family members to establish companies, which will then be awarded tenders fraudulently, or at inflated costs of service. Sometimes, as we have seen with Hitachi at Eskom, it is kickbacks from major corporations.
In the last analysis, it is the public sector doing ‘business’ with the private sector.
The first part of the Zondo Commission Report revealed that certain corporate accounting, management and banking firms like Pricewaterhouse Cooper (PwC) and Bain & Co have been implicated in the State Capture Report, as having aided or involved directly in some questionable deals.
It is not only the managerial, accounting and banking firms that are involved in abating corruption, but big industrial corporations are involved theft through illicit financial flows. Recently, SAFTU noted that:
SA is losing about R400 billion in illicit financial flows, and Global Financial Integrity (GFI) reported in December 2021 that sub-Saharan Africa lost $25.2 billion through trade misinvoicing. In analysing the same report, Moneyweb concluded that trade misinvoicing cost SA about R325 billion a year.
This is but a mere demonstration of the fact that private sector is as rotten as some governments, if not more than them. In fact, if we draw from our perspectives that the state is the instrument of the ruling class, no matter how democratic it may, then we must necessarily see the state as one of the instruments abating private sector corruption, pillage of natural resources and exploitation of the people.
This assertion is not far-fetched, or merely abstract. That mispricing, profit shifting, taxdodging and other forms of illicit financial flows happen right under the guardianship of the government financial regulatory institutions, is proof that the state is abating the ruling class to accumulate. If it was not abating, governments would have by now prosecuted and imprisoned these crooks, and put a halt to their dodgy operations.
In the case where the index is partially not reflective of the true picture of corruption and abuse of human rights, is its perception of the countries in the global north. The perceptions from experts and businesspeople recorded a lower proportion of corruption in Europe and North America, and this can only be in so far as the imperialist endeavours of those neocolonial powers are not considered. Not surprising though, it is the perceptions of businesspeople after all.
From the perspective of the working people of the global south, countries such as USA and United Kingdom are in no way better. On the contrary, they are the worst corrupt countries in the world involved in the theft of natural resources in the global south and abuse of human rights across the world in a bid to multiply their riches and maintain global dominance. Their rise and dominance are maintained through pillage, abuse and global suffering.
SAFTU believes that corruption and human rights abuse cannot be abolished in the context of capitalism. It is under socialism, where production is for need and not for profit, that we can realise the eradication of corruption and human rights abuses. The continents that were ravaged by colonialism and imperialism, and their people condemned to destitution, war and death, can be saved from the perpetual mass suffering.