R/€ = 15.00Change: 0.11
R/$ = 13.30Change: 0.10
Au 1154.00 $/ozChange: 9.85
Pt 949.00 $/ozChange: -4.00
Note: Search is limited to the most recent 250 articles. Set date range to access earlier articles.
Where? With... When?

And must exclude these words...
Close Main Search
Close Main Login
My Profile News Alerts Newsletters Logout Close Main Profile
Agriculture   Automotive   Chemicals   Competition Policy   Construction   Defence   Economy   Electricity   Energy   Environment   ICT   Metals   Mining   Science and Technology   Services   Trade   Transport & Logistics   Water  
What's On Press Office Tenders Suppliers Directory Research Jobs Announcements Letters About Us
RSS Feed
Article   Comments   Other News   Research   Magazine  
Jul 03, 2012

Corruption Watch to cast critical eye over SA’s R850bn infrastructure plan

Corruption Watch executive director David Lewis in conversation with Engineering News Editor Terence Creamer on the organisation's current priorities. Camera Work: Nicholas Boyd & Duane Daws. Editing: Darlene Creamer.
Engineering|Africa|Defence|Design|Industrial|Systems|Africa|South Africa|Energy|Energy Programme|Online Portal|Systems|David Lewis|Infrastructure
© Reuse this

Recently established civil society watchdog Corruption Watch is considering ways to cast an anticorruption spotlight on South Africa’s R850-billion infrastructure programme, which is being led primarily by State-owned companies.

Executive director David Lewis tells Engineering News Online the programme, which government aims to use to stimulate industrial development, create jobs and accelerate growth, needs to be designed in such a way that it does not become a “hot spot” for dishonest activities and unscrupulous opportunists.

It is acceptable, from a policy perspective, to pay a higher price for local content that could yield jobs, skills and introduce new technology. But Lewis says that price will only be worth paying in a context where there is sound governance and transparency of the costs and benefits. Otherwise, there is a risk that companies may establish themselves “simply to grease the wheels”, which would leave society picking up the tab, while further eroding the citizenry’s already fragile trust in the public sector.

“What I know about the ‘arms deal’ is that it wasn’t so much local content, but local intermediation between foreign suppliers and the defence force that became corrupted. In other words, deriving local rents from facilitating connectedness between the seller and the buyer.”

The scale of the programme is the primary reason for Corruption Watch’s emerging interest in infrastructure. The energy programme alone, Lewis muses, could make the arms deal “look like a rounding error”.

The organisation is, thus, considering replicating an approach taken by a Russian online portal, which tracks tenders and invites comments on ‘irregularities’, particularly from losing bidders. Such profiling could provide an early warning of compromises in tender processes.

The organisation is also eager to recruit a programme manager with intimate knowledge of public tender processes so that its interventions are based on a sound understanding of the risks inherent in such processes.


Besides infrastructure, Corruption Watch, which has it roots in the Congress of South African Trade Unions, is also planning to consolidate its “engagement” with the business community more generally.

Through this contract, it aims to highlight not only the threats associated with corrupted tender processes, but also to help aise awareness of the scourge, as well as debate about the potential remedies.

Lewis is particularly keen to tap into the internal communication channels of large business to extend the anticorruption message to both employees and customers. “We would like to put a more constructive spin on how corruption might be combatted.”

The problem currently, is that the risk/reward balance remains skewed in favour of the corrupt. Evidenced, Lewis argues, by the fact that those engaging in such activities are often unafraid to flaunt the fruits of their ill-gotten gains through the purchase of new cars, or other visible assets.

“It reminds me a little bit of the early days of the competition authorities,” the former Competition Tribunal chairperson adds. “Corrupt people feel so well protected . . . so certain that the risks of getting caught are really low, which leads them to leaving the most extraordinary evidence lying around.”

Therefore, even though the organisation has no statutory powers, such impunity has already created an opportunity for it to begin to expose corruption through basic desktop research and investigation.

In total, it has received over 2 000 complaints, ranging from corruption among traffic officers and Home Affairs officials, to nepotism in appointments in small towns, which is resulting in allegations of budget pillaging.

It will work with the enforcement agencies where it is able to secure evidence of corruption, but Lewis says a strong focus is mobilising opposition against the problem.

“There has to be robust prosecution and that has to be perceived as part of the risk . . . but you can’t solve this problem by serial acts of prosecution alone. There will always be more coming in the back door than you manage to get out the front door.”

Prosecutions should be complemented by “naming and shaming”, helping to design systems that disable corruption and the mobilisation of an “outraged citizenry”.

Edited by: Creamer Media Reporter
© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Other Infrastructure News
LEADING THE WAY The Association of South African Quantity Surveyors has embarked on a study to determine a more precise cost of green building in South Africa
Updated 0 minutes ago Voluntary quantity surveying association the Association of South African Quantity Surveyors (ASAQS) is formulating plans to accelerate not only its own but also the general construction industry’s understanding and increased use of sustainable construction...
INVERTED CULVERTS Rocla supplied several inverted culverts for use in cooling channels at a power station in Mozambique
Updated 0 minutes ago Precast concrete products company Rocla earlier this year supplied precast concrete inverted culverts, lids and bases to use as cooling channels to the R2.24-billion, 100 MW natural gas-fired Gigawatt power station, near Ressano Garcia, in Mozambique.
PROPOSED SCHEME The Lower Thukela bulk water supply scheme will include a 55 Mℓ/d water treatment plant and a high-lift pumpstation at the water-treatment works
Updated 0 minutes ago Engineering, management and specialist technical services firm Aurecon has undertaken two desalination plant feasibility studies for South African water utilities, following the successful completion of technical studies and investigations, construction-phase...
Latest News
Updated 6 hours ago The contraction in the metals and engineering sector is worsening, the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (Seifsa) warned on Thursday. Speaking after the release of production numbers by Statistics South Africa, Seifsa chief economist Henk...
Updated 7 hours ago Local innovation will undoubtedly provide solutions to many of the challenges faced by Africa, as it sets the tone for progress and enables businesses to gain a competitive advantage, create additional jobs and change peoples’ lives. Speaking as part of a panellist...
Updated 7 hours ago Zambia and Zimbabwe drew more water than they should have from the Kariba dam to generate electricity, draining the reservoir to 29% of its capacity in September, compared with 70% capacity last year, an engineering body said on Thursday. The Zambezi River Authority...
Recent Research Reports
Liquid Fuels 2015: A review of South Africa's liquid fuels sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Liquid Fuels 2015 Report examines these issues in the context of South Africa’s business environment; oil and gas exploration; fuel pricing; the development of the country’s biofuels industry; the logistics of transporting liquid fuels; and...
Road and Rail 2015: A review of South Africa's road and rail sectors (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2015 report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail infrastructure and network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and...
Defence 2015: A review of South Africa's defence sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Coal 2015 report examines South Africa’s coal industry with regards to the business environment, the key participants in the sector, local demand, export sales and coal logistics, projects being undertaken by the large and smaller participants in the...
Real Economy Year Book 2015 (PDF Report)
There are very few beacons of hope on South Africa’s economic horizon. Economic growth is weak, unemployment is rising, electricity supply is insufficient to meet demand and/or spur growth, with poor prospects for many of the commodities mined and exported. However,...
Real Economy Insight: Automotive 2015 (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Real Economy Year Book comprises separate reports under the banner Real Economy Insight and investigates key developments in the automotive, construction, electricity, road and rail, steel, water, gold, iron-ore and platinum sectors.
Real Economy Insight: Water 2015 (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Real Economy Year Book has been divided into individual reports under the banner Real Economy Insight and investigates key developments in the automotive, construction, electricity, road and rail, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum sectors.
This Week's Magazine
Sphere Holdings CEO Itumeleng Kgaboesele
Black-owned investment holding company Sphere Holdings plans to raise a further R1-billion in the coming months in support of its strategy to become a leading black industrial enterprise, which could ultimately seek a listing on the JSE.
Energy analyst and EE Publishers MD Chris Yelland warned recently against excessive optimism regarding timescales for the proposed construction of new nuclear power plants (NPPs) in South Africa. He was speaking at a Nuclear Roundtable in Johannesburg. “I think we...
Malawi’s Lilongwe Water Board (LWB) is inviting eligible bidders to prequalify for the board’s efficiency improvement works, which will be implemented as part of the E24-million Lilongwe Water Resources Efficiency Programme.   LWB CEO Alfonso Chikuni explains that...
CROATIA, AN EU MEMBER BUT NOT A TDCA MEMBER On July 1, 2013, Croatia officially became the twenty-eighth member of the European Union (EU). Despite Croatia’s accession into the EU, it is yet to become party to the Trade, Development and Cooperation Agreement (TDCA)...
The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has announced that its new Inundu airborne electronics testing, evaluation and training pod had made its first test flight on September 10. The successful flight was undertaken from Lanseria International...
Alert Close
Embed Code Close
Research Reports Close
Research Reports are a product of the
Research Channel Africa. Reports can be bought individually or you can gain full access to all reports as part of a Research Channel Africa subscription.
Find Out More Buy Report
Engineering News
Completely Re-Engineered
Experience it now. Click here
*website to launch in a few weeks
Subscribe Now for $96 Close
Subscribe Now for $96