Of all the things that the widely popular and largely acclaimed Rainbow Nation has had to worry about in recent decades, then ‘corruption,’ as a whole seems to be the key problem. In fact, the state of corruption in South Africa has been a constant source of menace for both economists and historians, journalists and the commoners.

South Africa Corruption
MIKE HUTCHINGS / POOL / AFP

That corruption in South Africa is a haunting reality is something that has risen as an aching problem, particularly at a time where there’s hardly any dearth of other collective problems:

1. The state of infrastructure is messy, urgently requiring reforms

2. There’s a genuine shortage of manpower and skilled labor to cater to various sectors

3. The growing influence of foreign players in the region- such as China (most notedly) seems to suggest that the country is in dire need of excellent and ‘role model’ worthy local leadership

But what’s worrying is that while under the reign of the current President Cyril Ramaphosa there seems to be no end to the economic woes of the country, back in the day, under Jacob Zuma (a key figure from the African National Congress or the ANC), the corruption in South Africa had seemed to hit a peak previously unexpected or witnessed.

A lot of financial and economic dailies have happened to report on the state of the corruption in South Africa, but only recently have the figures that caused a toll on the economy been revealed.

And, truth be told, this may really surprise most of us!

What’s a rather telling perspective is that the graft under Jacob Zuma cost South Africa $34 billion. This comes as a sour figure at a time where the current President Cyril Ramaphosa has been muttering about ‘forthcoming reforms’ wherever he goes.

What may certainly boil the blood of those who love South Africa undyingly would be visiting the hitherto unknown reality: that during the rule of Jacob Zuma, the state of corruption in South Africa made the country reeling under the loss of over R500 billion.

To his utter surprise, Ramaphosa recently confessed that the impact of graft under his predecessor’s rule was far greater than what he thought it would be.

“It was much bigger than I think most people could ever have imagined,” Mr Ramaphosa told the FT Africa Summit in London. “[The cost] runs way beyond, in my view, more than 500 billion. Some people have even suggested that it could be a trillion rand.”

On the matter of this great economic duress, Financial Times covered the developing story in great detail and underlined some insights that point the true picture of the state of corruption in South Africa.

The R500bn ($34bn) sum is about a tenth of South Africa’s gross domestic product. Analysts have estimated that under Mr Zuma, Africa’s most industrialized nation lost between R1tn and R1.5tn in missing tax revenues and a lack of foreign investment in addition to the direct costs of graft.

The patterns of corruption that developed under the former president, widely described as “state-capture”, brought critical institutions including the revenue service and the state power monopoly Eskom, to the brink of collapse.

“In the last year and a few months, we’ve made tremendous progress in turning our country around,” Mr Ramaphosa said. “We have stemmed that bleeding [and] we are now ready to open a new chapter.”

Suggested Read: South Africa’s Economy Is Plodding Along A Sea Of Problems

But all of that said, some purists certainly happen to believe that Cyril Ramphosa is running a ‘clean government.’ And that the key to betterment for the country as a whole is the steadfastness with which South Africa can execute economic reforms.

They are of the view that the investment sentiment will return soon to the country.

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