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Political Corruption in South Africa

Tom Lodge
African Affairs
Vol. 97, No. 387 (Apr., 1998), pp. 157-187
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/723262
Page Count: 31
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Political Corruption in South Africa
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Abstract

Public opinion suggests that political corruption is entrenched in South Africa. Comparative experience does not indicate that the historical South African political environment was especially likely to nurture a venal bureaucracy; as a fairly industrialized and extremely coercive state the apartheid order may have been less susceptible to many of the forms of political corruption analysts have associated with other post-colonial developing countries. Democratization has made government less secret, inhibiting corruption in certain domains but through extending government's activities opening up possibilities for abuse in others. Today's authorities argue that the present extent of corruption is largely inherited and indeed certain government departments, notably those concerned with security and the homelands, as well as the autonomous homeland administrations themselves, had a history of routine official misbehaviour. After describing the distribution and nature of corruption in South African public administration this article concludes that a substantial proportion of modern corruption occurs in regional administrations and certainly embodies a legacy from the homeland civil services. A major source of financial misappropriation in the old central government, secret defence procurement, no longer exists but corruption is stimulated by new official practices and fresh demands imposed upon the bureaucracy including discriminatory tendering, political solidarity, and the expansion of citizen entitlements. Though much contemporary corruption is inherited from the past, the simultaneous democratization and restructuring of the South African state makes it very vulnerable to new forms of abuse in different locations.

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