Brib­ing is a way of life for South Africans

CityPress - - Busi­ness - XOLANI MBAN­JWA xolani.mban­jwa@city­press.co.za

Pay­ing a bribe to get a job, ob­tain “il­licit” busi­ness dis­counts or se­cure a ten­der con­tract are three of the top five rea­sons peo­ple pay bribes in South Africa, ac­cord­ing to a new sur­vey.

The study, con­ducted by the Ethics In­sti­tute of SA and the first of its kind, polled 6 380 peo­ple in ur­ban ar­eas in Lim­popo, Gaut­eng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape, and found that 75% of the re­spon­dents who were asked for a bribe ended up pay­ing it.

A to­tal of 78% of the re­spon­dents be­lieved that it was im­pos­si­ble “to get through life” with­out pay­ing a bribe.

Kris Do­bie, or­gan­i­sa­tional ethics de­vel­op­ment man­ager at the in­sti­tute, said al­most twice as many peo­ple were ap­proached for a bribe in Lim­popo (48%), com­pared with those in the Western Cape (19%), KwaZulu-Natal (26%) and Gaut­eng (25%).

The av­er­age value re­spon­dents said they paid to get a ten­der was R100 000, to get a job was R3 000 and for “il­licit” busi­ness dis­counts or theft from busi­ness ser­vices was R1 800.

“The ma­jor­ity of re­spon­dents in­di­cated that it is un­likely that their fam­ily or friends would pay a bribe, ir­re­spec­tive of what it is for. It does, how­ever, seem to hap­pen slightly more fre­quently for avoid­ing a fine or crim­i­nal charges, or get­ting a job,” said the re­port.

In the re­port, Do­bie added that the re­sponses to the sur­vey showed “a very clear sense that un­skilled and semi­skilled labour­ers are most vul­ner­a­ble to be­ing ex­ploited to pay bribes for jobs. There al­most seems to be a be­lief among them that there is no choice but to pay a bribe if you want a job.”

Do­bie said the re­sults also showed that bribery was not just a gov­ern­ment prob­lem, but was also rife in the pri­vate sec­tor.

There were as many in­stances of bribery for jobs and ten­ders in the pri­vate sec­tor (47% and 42%, re­spec­tively) as there were in the pub­lic sec­tor (53% and 58%, re­spec­tively).

The ma­jor­ity of the re­spon­dents said they ei­ther knew of some­one or had them­selves paid bribes to get jobs in the min­ing sec­tor, as nurses, po­lice of­fi­cers and teach­ers, or to gain a pro­mo­tion.

Avoid­ing traf­fic fines was the lead­ing cause of bribery (34%), fol­lowed by gain­ing jobs (17%), ob­tain­ing a driver’s li­cence (13%) and ten­ders (7%), while busi­ness theft and un­law­ful dis­counts ac­counted for 4% of all bribes, ac­cord­ing to re­spon­dents.

“There are some­what more men­tions of ten­der bribery in the pub­lic sec­tor, but it is clearly also preva­lent in the pri­vate sec­tor. Ten­der bribery is not a pub­lic or pri­vate sec­tor phe­nom­e­non. It oc­curs ev­ery­where,” said Do­bie.

How­ever, when re­spon­dents were asked whether it was un­ac­cept­able to pay a bribe in all the in­stances, more than 80% agreed that their fam­ily and friends also viewed bribery as “so­cially un­ac­cept­able”.

“The like­li­hood of pay­ing a bribe is rated slightly higher than the so­cial ac­cept­abil­ity of pay­ing a bribe, even if by a small mar­gin across the board. We can de­duce that a small group of peo­ple may likely pay bribes even though they view it as so­cially un­ac­cept­able.”

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