President Jacob Zuma Reuters

A report by an independent government agency in South Africa has spelled out the scale and magnitude of official corruption in that country.

Presenting his annual findings before South African MPs. Willie Hofmeyr, head of the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), said South African taxpayers lose up to 30 billion Rand ($3.8 billion) each year due to corruption, incompetence and negligence in the public service. (The country’s GDP is estimates at about $300 billion)

That figure means that about 20 percent of the government’s procurement budget vanishes annually. Hofmeyr declares that aside from corruption, funds are also lost due to improper oversight and lack of regulation over public spending.

According to a report in the Independent Online (IOL), a South Africa news agency, the true extent of official corruption cannot really be accurately assesses, although Hofmeyr believes that the 30 billion Rand amount is “not unrealistic.”

He suggested that to address the massive problem, the government should increase the number of government anti-graft investigators by tenfold – from the present 700 to 7,000.

“[Our] laws, regulations and policies are pretty good,” Hofmeyr told MPs. “But if there are no consequences to them being broken, if there are not enough people to investigate an allegation that rules have been broken, and to hold somebody to account, then the culture of impunity spreads quickly.”

IOL stated that the SIU is presently investigating almost 600 government procurement contracts valued at 9.1 billion Rand ($1.15 billion) – in 43 of these cases, the agency has identified “irregularities” totaling 1.4 billion Rand ($177 million).

The Unit is also investigating 360 cases of possible conflicts of interest and has already unearthed 45 incidents of such conflicts involving 99 million Rand ($12.5 million)

Moreover, over the past six years, SIU has identified more than 40,000 government employees who improperly received social grant money totaling in the tens of millions of rand.

South Africa is awash in corruption and financial mismanagement… and it hardly raises a flutter of outrage among a public that is accustomed to such shenanigans.

Media in South Africa frequently report on such misconduct – including, for example, a government minister who allegedly nearly $70,000 of taxpayer money on a trip to Switzerland to visit his girlfriend who is in jail on drug charges (and then told the president that he went there on ”official business”); and an illegal deal by another minister and police chief who leased police buildings at inflated prices, at a cost to the public of $250 million.