Are you witnessing corruption but don’t know what to do about it? Ask the team of Corruption Watch experts what to do by writing to: email@example.com and mark your letter 'Dear Corruption Watch'.
Dear Corruption Watch,
Congratulations on your first anniversary. I reported an incident early last year. But I was told it does not fall within CW’s definition of corruption. Can you please explain how you define corruption and what types of corruption you record?
Corruption Watch is a non-profit organisation that provides the public with a platform to report incidences of corruption. The reports of corruption we receive and record fall into two broad categories: ‘petty’ corruption like traffic police bribery (which is actually a serious criminal offence, often with very severe consequences) and ’serious’ or ‘grand’ corruption, which involves large sums of money and, more often than not is associated with irregularities in the award of public sector contracts.
We further investigate allegations of serious corruption and pass the fruits of our investigation on to law enforcement authorities or the public protector. With petty corruption we use the reports to identify ‘hot spots’ of corruption or systemic weaknesses, which we communicate to the authorities and use as the basis for our campaigns. A good example of the latter is our campaign to reduce bribery on the roads. In dealing with both petty and serious corruption, we work closely with the media, including local community media, to expose corruption and to raise the level of public participation in reporting their experiences of it.
There are various definitions of corruption in law and international convention. For instance, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol Against Corruption defines corruption as the acceptance of any undue advantage by a public official in exchange for performing a corrupt act relating to his or her public functions; and the granting of any undue personal advantage by a public official in exchange for performing an act of corruption relating to his or her public functions. The UN Convention Against Corruption contains similar provisions.
South Africa’s leading legislation on corruption is The Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act (PRECCA). It defines corruption essentially as any person who, directly or indirectly, accepts or offers any gratification (whether for the benefit of him or herself or another person) to act personally or by influencing another person to act in an illegal manner. The corrupt acts listed in the Act are considered criminal offences.
Corruption Watch’s definition is far simpler. We see corruption as the abuse of power and public resources to enrich or give unfair advantage to individuals, their family or their friends, at any level of government or business. Public resources include : government money, property or vehicles; government pension funds and medical aid funds; trade union money; lottery money and donations to charities. Some examples include : a public servant who abuses the tender process for personal gain; a public official who abuses his position by giving preference to family member or close friends when employment opportunities arise; or a businessman who pays a public official to get an unfair advantage in a tender process.
We have received a number of reports that do not fit within our definition of corruption such as consumer or industrial relations complaints. We refer these people to more relevant bodies.
However there is a grey area we are increasingly taking on, covering what are often referred to as ‘service delivery complaints’. These are often the result of corruption, however; sometimes they are the result of mismanagement. Either way they represent an enormous wastage of scarce public resources and so fit within our mandate. Many of these reports emanate from small towns – so many that the abuse of public resources in small towns will be a major focus of our activities this year.
Take a stand and report an incident of corruption.