Raising Public Awareness on Anti-Corruption in South Africa
6th November 2019
SOUTH AFRICA AND THE LONDON SUMMIT COMMITMENTS
At the London Anti-Corruption Summit in 2016, the South African government committed to developing a National Anti-Corruption Strategy and supporting an implementation plan. The government also pledged to engage the public on the proposals contained in the strategy.
SOUTH AFRICA’S NATIONAL ANTI-CORRUPTION STRATEGY
Corruption Watch is a civil society organisation and accredited member of Transparency International, operating in South Africa. Through following the work of the government on the National Anti-Corruption Strategy, Corruption Watch became aware that the South African government had little intention of seeking public engagement and was only engaging with public servants in various provinces. Yet at the same time it was clear that the public wanted to see the introduction of accountability and anti-corruption measures to be put in place.
CORRUPTION WATCH’S STRATEGY
In order to ensure that the government developed a sound anti-corruption strategy which included input from the public, Corruption Watch launched a public awareness campaign in 2018 around the National Anti-Corruption Strategy.
Their approach involved the following:
- Developing an online public survey on the National Anti-Corruption Strategy;
- Conducting public consultations in three provinces (Gauteng, Western Cape, North West);
- Hosting roundtable discussions with civil society organisations and the private sector;
- Soliciting input from anti-corruption experts at a local and international level; and
- Making a written submission to the South African government on key findings from the consultative process, as well as recommendations that should be considered when finalising the Strategy.
In Corruption Watch’s engagements with community members it became evident that the public, civil society and the private sector were unaware of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy. Without this intervention by Corruption Watch, it is unlikely that the Strategy would have had widespread public input. A community member in Mogwase expressed his frustration: “When the government wants to increase our taxes, then they come to our communities and explain why they are doing so. However, when it comes to matters of anti-corruption which is equally important, the government doesn’t think it is necessary to engage us.”
As a result of Corruption Watch’s advocacy the Government incorporated a number of measures suggested by civil society and the private sector into the draft National Anti-Corruption Strategy.
In September 2019, the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation convened a meeting of stakeholders in order to establish a reference group that will undertake the revision of the Strategy, as well as the monitoring and implementation plan. Corruption Watch’s executive director, David Lewis, was appointed as the interim co-chair of the reference group, which has committed to have the final revisions for strategy completed by March 2020.
§ Civil society organisations are critical to ensuring communication and feedback between governments and citizens. Their role in guaranteeing participation from the public cannot be underplayed.
§ Consultative processes are a key way of empowering citizens and generating richer anti-corruption frameworks, not only based on technical specifications but also grounded on reality.