Key drivers & effects of corruption in rural areas: a case study of Jozini local municipality.
Shongwe, Zakhele Bongani.
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Corruption in post-apartheid South Africa continues to remain a critical challenge and obstacle to rural development. Each and every day in rural South Africa, myriad public officials are reported to have been implicated in corruption scandals through demanding and accepting bribes from the ordinary people who are in dire need of government services, like job opportunities. About millions of state funds allocated for rural development are embezzled by corrupt public officials in execution of public duties and the benefits of democracy being enjoyed by the so-called politically connected and economically empowered individuals who are always prioritized by the corrupt public officials, thus pauperizing the vast majority of the rural population who are economically disadvantaged who find it very difficult to survive in a corrupt system characterized by bribery and the so-called issues of political connectedness. The aim of this study is to explore the local’s perceptions of corruption focusing on its key drivers and effects in Jozini Local Municipality area of South Africa with specific reference to the Public Works sector. To explore local perceptions of corruption with a focus on its key drivers and effects, this study makes use of a qualitative research approach. Research data was collected through in-depth individual interviews in Jozini area using a sample of 20 research respondents, which included municipal officers and local youth respondents as key research informants on a subject under investigation. Findings of this study show that corruption in Jozini rural areas is caused by myriad factors, ranging from issues of human greed and lack of ethics, lack of commitment by public officials, low salary levels being paid to public officials, weak legal system and the scarcity of resources in the rural world. Factors such as poverty, enrichment of the few, impoverishing of the vast majority of the unemployed population, creation of inequality, undermining of democracy and the prevalence of service delivery protests are among the critical effects resulting from corruption in Jozini area. Therefore, my findings confirm that corruption and development are interconnected and that corruption is a zero-sum game whereby some people within a particular geographic area benefit from the corrupt system while others get pauperized by such a corrupt system and practice, thus making corruption a major culprit to rural underdevelopment and fair distribution of government services.