About 78% of survey respondents believe that it is difficult to navigate daily life without paying a bribe
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Only 22% of respondents to a recent survey believe that it is possible to successfully navigate daily life without paying a bribe. This is according to the South African Citizens’ Bribery Survey, conducted by the Ethics Institute of South Africa and sponsored by Massmart.
More than 6300 South Africans from urban centres in Gauteng, Cape Town, Durban and Polokwane were interviewed about how they experience bribery. To get a clearer picture of the extent of bribery in the country the survey asked questions such as “how frequently are people asked for bribes? What are these bribes for? How much do people pay for bribes? How willing are they to do something about bribery?”
The results show there is a disconnect between our perception of bribery and reality. Despite eight out of 10 survey respondents believing that it’s difficult to navigate daily life without paying a bribe, the survey reveals only 26% of them know of someone who was asked to pay a bribe in the past 12 months. However, when approached for a bribe 75% of respondents indicated that they pay it.
According to survey respondents the top five reasons for resorting to bribery are to avoid traffic offences (34%); to get a job (29%); to get a driver’s licence (13%), to get a tender (7%); and to get illicit discounts from business (4%).
“Some findings are as expected, but others challenge our common perceptions and put things in a new light” says Kris Dobie Manager of Organisational Ethics Development at Ethics SA. “The finding of the prevalence of bribery for jobs is case in point. While it is not unknown that there is sometimes payment for getting employment, the scale of the phenomenon as reported by survey respondents is surprising. And while there are examples of more senior positions ‘for sale’, it is the pervasiveness of bribery for unskilled labour that is most poignant.”
The survey shows that paying a bribe to get a job is prevalent in both the private and public sector but that unskilled and semi-skilled labourers are the most vulnerable. Although tender bribery is prevalent in both the private and public sectors, the construction industry was singled out as the industry with the most bribery.
Of the four provinces surveyed, 48% of respondents in Limpopo indicated that they knew someone who was approached for a bribe compared to 26% in Kwazulu-Natal, 25% in Gauteng and 19% in the Western Cape.
Massmart Chairman, Kuseni Dlamini says “At Massmart we are committed to acting responsibly and doing business the right way. We have invested significantly in promoting a culture of integrity within our organisation but also believe that we should play a broader anti-corruption role in our society, hence our sponsorship of the South African Citizens’ Bribery Survey.
Other key findings by the respondents include:
- 21.5% of bribes are for values of R100 or less;
- 55% of bribes reported to be below R1000;
- The average bribe amount mentioned was R2 005.
On a positive note, 66% of the survey respondents believe that South Africans do not want to pay bribes and 74% agree that citizens can do something to stop bribery. But, while most respondents are concerned about bribery and are willing to do something about it, the survey notes that they find it very difficult to do so in reality.
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Notes to editors
About the South African Citizens’ Bribery Survey 2015
Conducted by the Ethics Institute of South Africa and sponsored by Massmart, this is the first survey to examine bribery as perceived and experienced by ordinary South African citizens. The survey was conducted in a wide range of Massmart stores in Gauteng, Cape Town, Durban and Polokwane. The 6380 South Africans who participated in the survey come from various income levels.
Massmart is a managed portfolio of four divisions, each focused on high volume, low margin, low-cost distribution of mainly branded consumer goods for cash, through 400 stores in 13 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. At Massmart we recognise that we have a role to play in working with our suppliers to manufacture and source products in an environmentally sustainable and responsible manner.