8 November 2006
South Africa is the second least corrupt country on the continent of Africa, with a slightly improved rating in the 2006 Corruption Perception Index by global watchdog Transparency International.
The country scored 4.6 in the annual survey, up from the 2005 score of 4.5. This is on a scale from zero for countries perceived to have high levels of corruption, through to 10 for those with no corruption.
South Africa came in at 51st place – a position shared with Tunisia – out of the 163 countries surveyed. The only other state on the continent to score higher was Botswana, with a score of 5.6 putting it in 37th place.
The top position was shared by Finland, Iceland and New Zealand, each with a score of 9.6. Haiti was at the bottom of the list, coming in at 163rd place with a dismal 1.8. Slightly less bad were Guinea, Iraq and Myanmar, which all scored 1.9.
Interestingly, South Africa ranks far above other major emerging markets. Brazil, China, India and Mexico all tied for 70th place, scoring 3.3.
Corruption and poverty
Launched on Sunday, the 2006 index points to a strong correlation between corruption and poverty, with a concentration of impoverished states at the bottom of the ranking.
“Corruption traps millions in poverty,” said Transparency International Chair Huguette Labelle at the launch. “Despite a decade of progress in establishing anti-corruption laws and regulations, today’s results indicate that much remains to be done before we see meaningful improvements in the lives of the world’s poorest citizens.”
Seventy-one countries – nearly half – score below three, indicating that corruption is perceived as rampant.
A concentration of “failed states” is apparent at the bottom of the ranking. Iraq has sunk to second-to-last place, with pre-war survey data no longer included in this year’s index. Intermediaries who began operating during the United Nations oil-for-food programme continue to play a central role in driving corruption.
Countries with a significant worsening in perceived levels of corruption include Brazil, Cuba, Israel, Jordan, Laos, Seychelles, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia and the US. Countries with a significant improvement in perceived levels of corruption are Algeria, the Czech Republic, India, Japan, Latvia, Lebanon, Mauritius, Paraguay, Slovenia, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uruguay.