COVID-19 and Corruption in South Africa

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Photo: Physical distancing. Submitted for United Nations Global Call Out To Creatives. (cc) Samuel Rodriguez on Unsplash

Excerpt from the article South Africa’s Big Coronavirus Aid Effort Tainted by Corruption | For more information (in English), please consult the following link.

Contracts are being doled out to family members. Food parcels have gone missing. And funds meant for unemployment insurance are making their way into the pockets of political cronies.

South Africa, the continent’s economic powerhouse, responded to the coronavirus pandemic by announcing the largest relief effort in the country’s history. But the undertaking has been dogged by allegations of widespread corruption and mismanagement, undermining confidence in a government that had initially received international acclaim for its assertive response to the pandemic.

Charities and ordinary citizens say they have been left to fill in the gaps created by the government’s failures.

Despite its moves to control the pandemic, South Africa is now overwhelmed by more than 592,144 coronavirus cases, the fifth highest number of confirmed cases globally and the highest official caseload on the African continent.

South Africa’s ruling African National Congress party initially won praise after it imposed one of the world’s strictest lockdowns in March, and announced a raft of social measures it said would mitigate the devastating economic fallout of the pandemic. A stimulus package of 500 billion rand ($30 billion) announced in April was meant to supplement an existing social safety net that already supported 11.3 million citizens with monthly assistance for food and other social services.

But that relief effort has instead become a source of embarrassment for President Cyril Ramaphosa, who was elected on a platform of stamping out corruption. Mr. Ramaphosa has been forced to shift from explaining lockdown measures to seeking to reassure the public that aid will be delivered, and that those aiming to profit from it — including members of his own party — would be punished.