In this essay I will focus on the issue of corruption in South Africa from a public service perspective. The essay will highlight the nature of corruption, discuss the manifestation of corruption and the consequences of corruption in SA.

The impact of corruption on service delivery in South Africa is real and damaging and is one of the major contributors of the stunted development. Corruption is the offering or accepting of gratification as an inducement or reward for certain improper actions.

Opperman (2014:34) argues that corruption is a universal cancer because it affects the lives of every person in South Africa. It is of crucial importance that barriers to improvements such as fraud and corruption specifically in the public sector should be eliminated as they hamper service delivery and also damage the public sector. (Opperman, 2014)

Corruption is a two-way process, involving members of both the public and private sector, who engage in illegal, illegitimate and unethical actions that diminish a country’s economic prospects and degrade its social and political institutions.

(Rajin, 2017)

Impact of corruption in South Africa

It is evident that we do experience corruption in South Africa. According to Skenjana, et al. (2019) a reduced productive investment and growth in South Africa is an impact of corruption and the country needs to eliminate it because it is in great need of influx of productive foreign capital. Widespread corruption provides a poor environment that does not attract foreign investment and investors likely to make long-term contributions to development may be hesitant to invest.

Get quality help now

Proficient in: Africa

5 (339)

“ KarrieWrites did such a phenomenal job on this assignment! He completed it prior to its deadline and was thorough and informative. ”

+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

Corruption attracts those investors seeking to make quick profits through dubious ventures. Similarly, corruption in aid programmes reduce benefits for recipients and hamper continued funding. Corruption’s negative effect on South Africa’s total investment is undeniable.

Local investors tend to hold back their big investment projects and operations. For instance, the Presidential cabinet reshuffle which was widely labelled as a product of corruption within the state big industry players like Pioneer Foods and some big mining companies announced that they would hold back their investments because they are afraid to lose their investment. The consequences of this action are hampering South African economy.

Tooley and Mahoai (2007:366) argue that resources are turned aside from their intended purpose in South Africa and this comforts the formulation of effective public policy and the delivery of services. This arises from bribes and result in poor quality of service and poor access to services. Few are benefiting at the expense of the many and corruption is strengthening the existence social and economic inequalities in South Africa. Priority programs and services such as health services and the legal system are negatively impacted by corruption.

The poor are denied their legal rights and entitlements because the diversion of resources and benefits towards the rich and away from the poor. Corruption increases and worsen poverty in a variety of ways in South Africa because services can be bought from public officials. (Tooley & Mahoai 2007)

According to Skenjana et al. (2019) corruption robs the taxpayers the right to enjoy their hard-earned money as they are expected to contribute once again to failed projects. It robs the citizens the right to enjoy additional benefits as corrupt activities have the potential to divert funds into wrong hands. Money is being diverted into fighting corruption instead of funding the projects that can develop citizen’s life. It is a cruel or violent circle in that the taxpayers will have to struggle with financing outlays that were budgeted for in a specific period but money diverted to other unlawful uses in most cases resulting in projects not reaching completion. Corruption causes price increases and waste of resources.

Corruption costs the public and the poor people because it diverts resources to non-priorities resulting in non-enjoyment of basic necessities. It acts as a disincentive discouraging investment and may increase the likelihood of committing other crimes. Crime is a harmful act to a community, society or state. Corruption is related to a crime because it supports the ongoing existence of crime, corrupt public savants protect each other from law enforcement.

(Skenjana et al. 2019)

Corruption becomes both the cause and consequence of underdevelopment and poverty in general. Corruption impacts on service delivery such that service delivery is either inefficient or there is a lack of quality service delivery. (Skenjana et al. 2019)

The nature of corruption in South Africa from a public service perspective

Public service is the work done by government that benefits all the people in a particular community, for instance removal of waste, transport and health care. The value of public service to the society is that it plays a major role in sustained economy growth and social development. (Tooley and Mahoai 2007)

The introduction of e-procurement which is a computer software for procurement systems in government departments had increased the incidents of fraud and corruption that was as soon as individuals familiarize themselves with the system. (Opperman, 2014).

Rajin (2007:34) argues that the public sector meets most of its delivery requirements through purchases of goods and services from the private sector and it is under these interactions that possibilities to engage in dishonest activities often emerge. The public sector officials have the like hood of initiating and also persuading the private officials into corrupt activities. Often public sector transactions would involve three parties, the service provider, the service deliverer and the beneficiary. Often there is an originator of the bargain and the other two players may at first not be willing to get involved. There is possibility that they may eventually be persuaded to participate. The accomplishment of the delivery of an intended transaction is achieved when all the three are dishonest.

Corruption takes place in the various spheres of the society and does not occur in a closed environment, but involves the communities, officials working in government departments, and other sectors of the economy. In this essay a discussion will be given on corruption in the governmental, political, economic and societal spheres. Political corruption is the abuse by politicians and government officials of their power for personal gain. Example, in 2011, a Cabinet Minister reportedly used public funds to live in a luxury hotel and fly first class on government funds. An appointed political officer performs an illegal action for personal gain. Political corruption includes the offering of bribe, blackmail, appointment of friends, favoritism, graft and theft. Sometimes it is the misuse of government power for other purposes, such as the domination of public servants who abuse their positions to provide favours to family, friends and contacts. (Rajin, 2017)

Another form of corruption engulfs the leadership of President, Jacob Zuma. Zuma was alleged of advocating for a bribe from the head of South African branch of Arms Company which was under investigation. It is believed that the bribe aimed to guarantee the political support of the vice president so the company would not be prosecuted. In a corruption related development, President Jacob Zuma was also implicated in a 355 page report titled “State of Capture,” the report contains allegations, and in some instances evidence, of cronyism, questionable business deals, and ministerial appointments, and other possible large-scale corruption at the very top of government. The allegation against the President led to massive protest against his regime by the civil society organizations in South Africa. (Ojo, 2018)

Corruption in South Africa: how it manifests itself

Ojo (2018:20) states the following examples of some of the different manifestations of corruption in South Africa:

Bribery: It involves the promises or giving of a benefit that wrongly affects the decisions of a public servant. For instance, a traffic officer accepts a cash payment in order not to issue a speed fine. Bribery is arguably the most common form of corruption. It entails beneficiaries using unconstitutional means of payment to acquire government favours and resource allocations. (Ojo, 2018)

Decompensations: here the supplier who is awarded business gives money or gift, to a public servant who dishonestly influenced the choice of supplier. (Ojo, 2018)

Favoritism: Here public servants in positions of some authority secretly have business awarded to their families or friends. Favoritism also sees officials bypassing the required processes in order to award employment positions within government to family members of friends. Favoritism also unlawful behavior where provision of services or resources are awarded according to personal affiliations, such as ethnic and religious affiliations.

Cheque payments: when an official causes a cheque to be issued in favour of a person or business which has, in fact, not given government the required value for that payment.

Theft and fraud: Ojo (2018:40) states that theft of resources is one of manifestations of corruption in South Africa, it is done by officials assigned the authority over and controls of resources. Hospital staff that steals medicines and sell these to community members and private pharmacists is a good example. Fraud is displayed in public servants or officials involvement in actions that persuade others to provide a benefit that would not normally accrue to them Example: A public servant that registers a false employee in order to collect the salary of that fictitious employee. Some officials steal state assets under their jurisdiction or made accessible to them as a function of their positions in a public institution. Acquiring publicly owned assets through illegal transactions and fraud constitute the most extensive form of such corruption.

Abuse of power and insider trading: This involves officials who are using their authority to improperly benefit another officials or using the authority given to them to improperly discriminate against another public servant. For instance, heads of a government department ensure that tender contracts are awarded to certain individuals. This is done even before the actual selection of a successful contractor. In some cases, this occurs as a result of a conflict of interest. This commonly occurs when government officials are failing to act in a particular matter because they have a relationship with the people involved in applications of service delivery. Ojo, 2018) Example: A government official considers tenders for a contract and awards the tender to a company of which his or her partner is a beneficiary.

Insider trading commonly referred to as abuse of privileged information. This involves the use of privileged information and knowledge that a public servant possesses as a result of his or her office to provide unfair advantage to another people to obtain a benefit himself or herself. Example: local government officials use to their advantage or benefit the knowledge of residential areas that are to be rezoned as business areas. They achieve this by informing their family and friends to obtain the residential properties with a view to selling these as business properties at a premium.

The consequences of corruption

According to Skenjana, et al. (2019) increased corruption and poor financial systems have destroyed the capacity of government to deliver. Economy: Corruption interrupts investment, restrict trade, reduce economic growth and distorts the facts and figures associated with government expenditure. Corruption contributes to increase in poverty, income inequality and can even weaken service delivery. It is the poor that suffers since they are most dependent on government for support. Procurement corruption leads to waste of public funds and resources, inferior quality of products and services as well as deter qualified suppliers from doing business with government

Tooley & Mahoai (2007:366) argues that corruption seriously limits the development of the national economy and prevent good governance in this country. The complex political design of a country such as South Africa can be a contributing factor to the rise in corruption which negatively affects stability and trust in government. Corruption hampers democracy and the rule of law. In a democratic system, public institutions may lose their legitimacy when they abuse their power for private interest.

According to Skenjana, et al. (2019) corruption in the public sector poses a possible threat to sustainable service delivery. For example, money that is meant for infrastructure and development ends up in the pockets of corrupt officials. Corruption not only increases the cost of public services but also slows down the much-needed service delivery to those dependent on government for support.Negative effect is visible in the health, education, housing and social services sectors. Money is spent unnecessarily on legal fees in order to bring perpetrators to book.

Skenjana, et al. (2019) state that there are many examples that prove that corruption leads to poor service delivery, and the lack of textbooks in Limpopo in 2012 is one of the consequences of poor service delivery in education. Other examples include roads built using poor material in order to gain surplus money for private gain. This is a serious economic problem because poor government delivery hinders business growth. In South Africa 32% of private business owners surveyed by Grant Thornton in 2016 identified poor service delivery relating to utilities (water and electricity) as having the greatest negative impact on their growth.


The assay set out to give an account of the impact of corruption in South Africa. A few cases of corrupt practices were mentioned as evidence. Corruption has damaging effects on economic growth and social stability in South Africa and therefore the demand for practical and improved strategies to reduce corruption has dramatically increased. Anti-corruption strategies will only be successful when it eliminates the occurrence of fraud and when perpetrators are caught and executed. Given all the critical issues raised in this essay, it is evident that corruption has a negative impact on service delivery. It disturbs, delays and diverts growth and development necessary for effective service delivery. The impact of corruption contributes directly to poverty by denying the poor of public services and benefits. It also denies the citizens political, social and legal rights by twisting development priorities.

Cite this page

The impact of corruption in South Africa. (2019, Nov 27). Retrieved from

The impact of corruption in South Africa
Let’s chat?  We're online 24/7