By Valencia Talane

Employment prospects of many young people across the country are hampered by corruption and they do not access all the necessary basic services they need because of it. They would take part in a march, if given the chance, to show their unhappiness with the corruption in South Africa. This was revealed in a recent online poll undertaken by Corruption Watch, focusing on the youth.   

Over 6 000 participants between the ages of 14 and 34 took part in the survey, revealing interesting insights on how corruption affects them and how it can be eradicated. The survey was conducted through Mxit, and the respondents are fully representative of the population of the popular social media app, although to a lesser degree of the country’s population.

Focus on the youth

The survey was conducted ahead of the launch of Youth Month, which is an important focus for Corruption Watch, and its findings will help inform our future youth interactions. We've also published a blog post by Sbusiso Leope – better known as DJ Sbu – which encourages the young people of South Africa to get actively involved in fighting corruption. After all, it's their future that is at stake, and the power to tackle the scourge is in their hands.

"South Africa is a country that worked hard for its freedom, so its citizens cannot just sit back and watch corruption reign and tarnish the fruits of our democracy", wrote Sbu.

Read the full piece on Corruption Watch Connected now.

Education and health provide easy pickings for corruption

Between our launch in January 2012 and 31 May 2014, Corruption Watch has received 302 reports of corruption in employment, which is 9.3% of all corruption reports received during that period.

This corruption is usually concentrated to the provincial and local sectors of government, Corruption Watch data shows, with a majority of the cases occurring in the education and health sectors. Bribery, nepotism and irregularities in the appointment of candidates for positions are the most common forms of corruption that reporters cite in their complaints.

According to Statistics South Africa’s National and Provincial Labour Market; Youth, unemployment among the country’s youth stands at 36.1%. “Youth face particular challenges in gaining employment in the South African labour market,” reads the report. “Over the period 2008-2014, their level of education attainment improved, but their labour market prospects deteriorated.”

On a broader scale, a World Economic Forum report on global risks, released at the start of the year, showed that South Africa has the third highest unemployment rate among young people in the world. The Global Risk 2014 report estimated that over half of young South Africans between 15 and 24 are unemployed. In developing countries, according to the report, an estimated two-thirds of the youth are not fulfilling their economic potential.

“Unemployment is generally perceived to be our most challenging social and economic problem. Our survey reveals that the youth believe that their employment prospects are compromised by corruption. This perception is borne out by the jobs-for-pay scandal in the education system and by the consistent reports of nepotism in appointments that we receive,” said Corruption Watch's executive director, David Lewis.

Police and licensing perceived to be most corrupt

Other areas of concern for the young people surveyed are the police and licensing sectors. The two are perceived to be the most corrupt among nine sectors of public service that respondents could choose from, including education, health, business and the judiciary.  

Corruption Watch commissioned polling company Pondering Panda to conduct the research on the highly popular MXit network. About 6 300 respondents participated, a majority of them falling within the 25 to 34 age group (44%) and with different levels of education and income.

KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and Eastern Cape generated the most responses – of those, 81% of participants are black. As many as 26% of respondents claimed that they were denied basic services because of corruption in their areas.

In a similar survey conducted by Pondering Panda in 2013, young people cited the naming and shaming process as the most effective way to fight corruption. In the Corruption Watch poll, public education was picked as the most effective, with emphasis on teaching people how to report corruption. Another way to help curb corruption, suggested respondents, was to put harsher punishment in place to discourage would-be corrupt officials in government from wrongdoing.

Another, more focused survey was carried out at the same time, also by Corruption Watch, but this time targeting high school and university students as well as young professionals.  Although the same sentiments are shared with their Mxit counterparts, this smaller sample was more inclined to go the name-and-shame route.  More than half of the 112 respondents believed that embarrassing corrupt individuals or businesses would be more effective than educating the public on reporting corruption.

Both groups however had corroborating views on young people’s involvement in the fight against corruption. They believe the youth can do a good job of getting involved in the corruption fight and that South Africans cannot rely on the country’s leadership to ensure we live in a corruption-free society.

Asked if they would participate in Corruption Watch programmes aimed at fighting corruption, a majority of the young people agreed.

Youth from various circumstances agree on corruption

The university student group consisted of young people between the ages of 18 and 35, with 57% falling into the 18-24 age bracket. There was an even distribution of men and women, 58% of them university students and 22% with full-time employment.

They too perceived the police and transport and licensing departments to be the most corrupt.

About 80% of the respondents claimed that corruption had affected them in some way or another – undermining their employment prospects and not having access to basic services emerged as the main consequences of corruption.

Over 40% of the respondents indicated that they would like to take part in an anti-corruption campaign – particularly through interactive online discussions, taking part in an anti-corruption march and signing an anti-corruption pledge.

What our young people are saying about corruption – in pictures:

my images


Young people would take part in a march, if given the chance, to show their unhappiness with the corruption in South Africa. This was revealed in a recent online poll undertaken by Corruption Watch, focusing on the youth.
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