The challenges of curbing corruption in a democracy : the case of the Public Protector and Nkandla

Adetiba, Olumide Frederick (2016-03)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2016.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Corruption as a global phenomenon has remained a recurring subject in development and nationbuilding discussions, particularly in Africa. Across the continent, there is a growing concern about the negative effect of corruption on economic development, with grave consequences for the wellbeing of citizens. The media in Africa is inundated with news of corrupt activities of public officials on a daily basis. Despite efforts that are being made at all levels – national, regional and international - corruption appears to be on the increase rather than declining. This aptly describes the situation in South Africa where, since transition to democratic governance in 1994, corruption has been one of the major problems the different administrations have had to contend with. Since 1994, there has been the enactment and ratification of national, regional and international conventions, as well as the establishment of numerous institutions to address the problem of corruption. The problem has persisted despite all these efforts. It is to this end that this study seeks to understand the challenges of curbing corruption in a democratic system such as South Africa. To help understand these challenges, the handling of the Nkandla case by the Public Protector has been used as a case study. The bureaucratic organisational model is employed to aid understanding of the prevailing governance and leadership structure in South Africa. It is argued that neo-patrimonialism, which best defines the existing leadership structure, engenders patronage networks that on one hand create the avenue for corruption and on the other, make it difficult to address the problem. This study argues that the patronage network of relationships that exist between the President and various state organs involved in the implementation and investigation of the Nkandla project gave rise to the challenges the Public Protector experienced in the course of investigating the case. Other specific challenges of curbing corruption that emerged include lack of political will to address the problem, political interference in the operations of anti-corruption institutions, internal capacity constraints and institutional framework deficiencies. The conclusion reached is that for South Africa to make progress in the fight against corruption, these issues have to be addressed. For instance, as part of the strategy to address institutional framework deficiencies, there is a need to reconsider the suitability of a single, well-empowered and independent anti-corruption agency, with a clearly defined mandate. Although the status of the recommendations of the Public Protector regarding the Nkandla case are soon be addressed by the Constitutional Court, it is important to still have a dedicated anti-corruption agency so as to avoid the current problem of a multiplicity of reports and the overlap of responsibilities, which amounts to poor coordination and a waste of public resources.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Korrupsie as 'n globale verskynsel en is ʼn onderwerp wat aanhoudend opkom in die ontwikkeling en nasiebou besprekings, veral in Afrika. Oor die hele vasteland, is daar 'n groeiende kommer oor die negatiewe uitwerking wat korrupsie op ekonomiese ontwikkeling het endie ernstige gevolge wat dit vir die welsyn v burgers inhou. Die media in Afrika is op 'n daaglikse basis oorval met nuus van die korrupte aktiwiteite van openbare amptenare. Ten spyte van pogings wat op alle vlakke gemaak word- nasionale, streek- en internasionale, blyk dit of korrupsie eerder styg as bedaar. Dit beskryf gepas die situasie in Suid-Afrika, waar sedert die oorgang na ʼn demokratiese regering in 1994, korrupsie een van die grootste probleme is wat die verskillende administrasies moet aanspreek. Sedert 1994, is daaraanvaarding en ratifikasie van verskeie nasionale, streeks- en internasionale konvensies, asook die vestiging van talle instellings om die probleem van korrupsie aan te spreek. Ondanks al hierdie pogings, duur die probleem voort. Om hierdie rede poog die studie poog om die uitdagings van die bekamping van korrupsie in 'n demokratiese stelsel soos Suid-Afrika te verstaan. Om o hierdie uitdagings te begryp, word die saak Nkandla deur die Openbare Beskermer gebruik as 'n gevallestudie. Burokratiese organisatoriese model is gebruik om ons begrip van die heersende regering en leierskap struktuur in Suid-Afrika te ontleed. Dit is aangevoer dat neo-patrimonialisme die bestaande leierskap struktuur verduidelik, en dat dit begunstigingte netwerke kweek wat aan die een kant die baan vir korrupsie bevorder en aan die ander, dit moeilik om die probleem aan te spreek. Hierdie studie argumenteer dat die begunstiginge netwerke van verhoudings wat bestaan tussen die President en verskeie staatsorgane wat betrokke was by die implementering en ondersoek van die Nkandla-projek het aanleiding gegee tot die uitdagings wat die Openbare Beskermer ervaar het in die afloop van die ondersoek van die saak. Ander spesifieke uitdagings van die bekamping van korrupsie wat na vore gekom het sluit die gebrek aan politieke wil in om die probleem aan te spreek, politieke inmenging in die werksaamhede van anti-korrupsie instellings, interne kapasiteit beperkings en institusionele raamwerk tekortkominge. Die gevolgtrekking is dat as Suid-Afrika vordering wil maak om die stryd teen korrupsie te wen, dat hierdie kwessies aangespreek moet word. Byvoorbeeld, as deel van 'n strategie om institusionele raamwerk tekortkominge aan te spreek, is daar 'n behoefte om die geskiktheid van 'n enkele, goed bemagtigde en onafhanklike teenkorrupsie-agentskap met ʼn duidelike mandaat te heroorweeg. Alhoewel, die status van die aanbevelings van die Openbare Beskermer rakende die geval Nkandla binnekort deur die Konstitusionele Hof aangespreek gaan word, is dit belangrik om steeds 'n toegewyde anti-korrupsie agentskap om die huidige probleem van veelvuldige verslae en oorvleueling van verantwoordelikhede te vermy, wat neerkom op swak koördinasie en vermorsing van staatsgeld.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/98551
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