Corruption Watch tender fraud South Africa youth
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  • South Africa’s youth say that corruption is at its highest level and worry that it will become worse in the future.
  • More than half of all youth respondents failed to identify a clear case of extortion as an act of corruption, according to a study conducted by Corruption Watch
  • Similarly, 49% of all youth surveyed could not detect tender corruption in a case where contracts were awarded with ‘thank you’ payments.
  • Sexual favours in exchange for jobs and tenders has also been highlighted as an area of concern, with 14% of respondents admitting to being propositioned.
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South Africa’s youth have a good overall understanding of corruption but worrying perceptions around tender fraud and extortion are noted as areas of concern. A recent survey shows that 51% of youth respondents failed to flag blackmailing of a teacher in exchange for higher marks as an example of corruption.

Additionally, 49% of youth, between the ages of 18 and 35 years old, didn’t recognise the act of giving a monetary reward in exchange for a tender to be corruption.

These perceptions were revealed by Corruption Watch, a non-profit organisation which looks to empower whistle-blowers and hold government officials accountable for malfeasance. The organisation’s recently published youth report, which surveyed 1,500 respondents across low to high income brackets in mid-2020, identifies troubling corruptive trends and experiences.

Importantly, the majority of South Africa’s youth regard current levels of corruption as extremely high, with 41% of respondents predicting that it will get much worse in the future. While most corrupt scenarios are easily identifiable, opinions are divided when it comes to more nuanced situations. A growing number of respondents have also admitted to being swayed into corrupt dealings if threatened or if promised a job.

Corruption Watch has detailed two areas of specific concerns. When asked if a female classmate threatened to show nude pictures of the class teacher to the principal if he didn’t give her an A for a test, more than half of all respondents said that this scenario did not constitute corruption.

“Whilst there is generally a high understanding of corruption, worryingly, 51% of respondents did not consider threatening to extort a teacher in exchange for high marks on a school paper as corruption,” noted Corruption Watch.

Similarly, almost half of all respondents failed to recognise tender corruption, which was listed as one of the most prevalent forms of fraud throughout the survey. When asked if their mothers were to give the school governing body (SGB) chairperson R1,000 to thank him for giving her the school Christmas party catering contract, 49% of respondents did not classify this as corruption.

Scenarios which were easily identifiable as corrupt included if a taxi driver put R50 into his ID book and handed it to the traffic officer at a roadblock so that he could pass and if the teacher at the driving school instructed respondents to bring an extra R3,000 along with their driver's licence test application if they wanted to pass.

Corruption Watch also highlighted the growing prevalence of sexual favours in return for financial gain.

“When asked whether they have had to exchange sexual favours in the past to access goods or services, the majority of respondents (69%) noted that they had never,” the report stated. “However, 14% were asked to perform a sexual favour in exchange for a job.”

Of this 14%, an overwhelming majority of female respondents noted that sexual favours had been asked in exchange for a job, particularly those involving government tenders. Other associated scenarios included the promise of better marks in school or university and access to money.

Similarly, Corruption Watch’s study showed that a greater percentage of young people were willing to exchange money for an employment opportunity. High income respondents reported that they were more likely to engage in corruption. When asked if they would do something illegal if threatened, peer pressured or promised a better life, more than a third of high income respondents answered yes.

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