Jean-Jacques Cornish

How to measure the success of the fight against corruption

A common response has emerged to the depressing evidence of burgeoning corruption in South Africa: never again.

New President Cyril Ramaphosa has been delphic in his response to the multitude of pointed fingers – not least because some of them are pointed at him.

It would certainly be dangerously naive to blame it all on former President Jacob Zuma.

No single person can lay waste to an economy. There have to be accomplices.

When and how they pay for pain and suffering they have caused is a matter for the cvourts.

The  muscular and independent judiciary has been the salvation of the Rainbow Nation. So whatever cynicism has grown in the nursery of our misery, we have to accept that the judges will continue to do an exemplary job in bringing the crooked politicians and officials to book.

It is for ourselves and our elected representatives to ensure the corruption never happens again.

Constant vigilance is essential.

And we’ll need some measurement of success.

Let me suggest the 25-year-old Berlin-based Transparency International.

TI’s annual Corruption Perception Index was published this week.

Once again it has depressing news for Sub Sahara Africa which once again takes up the bottom of the table.

Critics of the index say it is superficial because it relies on perception rather than hard fact.

Do you imagine TI or any other watchdog  would not use hard facts if these were available?

Cover up is the lifeblood of corruption. This is why government crackdowns on media and non governmental organisations trying to establish the truth invariably points to widespread corruption.

TI is also criticized for reducing the incidence to a single mark out of 100.

Surely anyone with even the most basic education understands percentage grades.

Would you prefer the obfuscation of what Winston Churchill called lies, damn lies and statistics?

This year, South Africa gets 43 on the index.

Its exactly the same as the global average, which TI says represents little or no progress worldwide in fighting corruption.

The cleanest country is New Zealand with 89 points  which scores and the most crooked is Somalia with only  9.

Don’t bother arguing over whether 43 is a passing mark.

We have a mark on the doorframe that we can compare next year.

Will it show we are winning the fight?

Enquire about availability for radio, podcasts, reporting or opinion pieces.

Jean-Jacques Cornish is a journalist and broadcaster who has been involved in the media all his adult life.

Starting as a reporter on his hometown newspaper, he moved briefly to then Rhodesia before returning to South Africa to become a parliamentary correspondent with the South African Press Association. He was sent to London as Sapa’s London editor and also served as special correspondent to the United Nations. He joined the then Argus group in London as political correspondent.

Returning to South Africa after 12 years abroad, he was assistant editor on the Pretoria News for a decade before becoming editor of the Star and SA Times for five years.

Since 1999 he’s been an independent journalist writing and broadcasting – mainly about Africa – for Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape
Talk, Radio France International, PressTV, Radio Live New Zealand, Business Day, Mail & Guardian, the BBC, Agence France Press,
Business in Africa, Leadership, India Today, the South African Institute for International Affairs and the Institute for Security Studies.

He has hosted current affairs talk shows on Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape Talk. He appears as an African affairs pundit on SABC Africa and CNBC Africa.
He lectured in contemporary studies to journalism students at the Tshwane University of Technology and the University of Pretoria.

He speaks on African affairs to corporate and other audiences.
He has been officially invited as a journalist to more than 30 countries. He was the winner of the 2007 SADC award for radio journalism.

He’s been a member of the EISA team observing elections in Somaliland, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Egypt and Tunsiai.

In October 2009 he headed a group of 39 African journalists to the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Peoples’ Republic of China.

In January 2010 he joined a rescue and paramedical team to earthquake struck Haiti.

He is immediate past president of the Alliance Francaise of Pretoria.

Jean-Jacques is a director of Giant Media. The company was given access to Nelson Mandela in his retirement years until 2009.
He is co-producer of the hour-long documentary Mandela at 90 that was broadcast on BBC in January 2009.