Transparency International, the leading civil society organisation tackling worldwide corruption, released its annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) on Thursday.
It highlighted how corruption has impacted the ability of countries around the world to manage their health care responses to the Covid-19 pandemic.
South Africa ranked 69 out of 180 countries with a score of 44 out of 100.
Denmark and New Zealand jointly topped the list with a score of 88 while Somalia and South Sudan both scored 12 and secured last place.
For the past decade, South Africa has not breached the 45 point mark let alone reach 50 points.
The CPI ranks 180 countries by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, drawing on 13 surveys covering expert assessments and views of businesspeople. It captures specific manifestations of public sector corruption, which range from bribery, diversion of public funds, effective prosecution of corruption cases, adequate legal frameworks, access to information, and legal protections for whistle-blowers, journalists and investigators.
During his tenure President Cyril Ramaphosa has taken hard stances on corruption, however calls remain for more decisive action.
The presidency was approached with questions regarding the report and the global perception of being corrupt but had not responded at the time of publishing.
Wayne Duvenage, chief executive of Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse, said corruption had become endemic and seeped into all facets of society.
“Corruption is not just stolen billions, it is also paying your way out of speeding tickets or abusing your power in the workplace. It is becoming common practice as accountability and consequences are lacking. The rot starts at the head. Government is good at giving lip service but not implementation,” said Duvenage.
David Lewis, executive director of Corruption Watch, said the failure to move above the 50 points was a damning indictment of the extent of corruption and damage.
“Public trust in government has been further eroded during the Covid19 pandemic, as blatant flouting of procurement processes has characterised the purchase of personal protective equipment, at a time when all of society needs to work together with integrity. The stagnation suggests a failure of government efforts to address the root causes of corruption.”
He said there were signs that the country had the ability to emerge from its stagnant position.