'Fraud widens inequality gap'

Simon Nare and Sapa

Corruption undermines growth and development by diverting resources away from development programmes and so increases poverty and inequality, Minister of Public Service and Administration Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi said yesterday.

In her speech to the African Forum on Anti-Corruption in Johannesburg yesterday the minister said corruption had also undermined democracy and spawned networks that pillaged public resources in pursuit of personal wealth.

"A connection to the state has become a sine qua non - an essential element - for capital accumulation," she said.

Corruption benefited few, but left many victims, most of whom were poor, she said.

"Corruption fosters a climate of mistrust, particularly of public officials," the minister said.

About 300 government ministers, parliamentarians, members of anti-corruption agencies and former African heads of state all form part of the delegation attending the forum, which started yesterday and will end tomorrow.

The theme of the conference is Towards a Common Understanding of Corruption.

The gathering is expected to come up with a common definition of the term at the end of the forum.

A 2002 World Bank report on corruption put the financial costs of corruption at about R1065,6 billion a year.

The report also stated it increased the costs of goods by as much as 20 percent.