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S. African corruption ranking over-exaggerated: gov't

CAPE TOWN, Dec. 4 (Xinhua) -- The South African government on Thursday rejected reports that the country has reached "a point of no return" in terms of corruption.

"We acknowledge that there is a level of corruption across society, and that together we must confront it wherever it rears it's head. However, it is pessimistic to state that South Africa is at a point of no return," Acting Director General of the Communication Department Donald Liphoko said in a statement.

Transparency International's 2014 Corruption Perceptions Index rated South Africa 44 out of 100. Last year South Africa scored 42.

The lower the score the more corrupt a country is perceived to be.

Of the 175 countries scored, South Africa was ranked 67th. Last year South Africa was 72nd out of 177.

The Times newspaper on Wednesday commented that South Africa "is at a point of no return" with a sensational headline "SA in dodgy territory".

"Such misleading media reports are unhelpful in building the country but are feeding into a pessimistic outlook that can only damage our national psyche and prospects for economic growth," said Liphoko.

The media, he said, should not only report the facts but enrich the country's debate on important national issues in a responsible manner.

The country's legal and institutional frameworks as well as public policy pronouncements stand vehemently against corruption, Liphoko said.

To put this into perspective, the latest annual Corruption Perceptions Index indicates that South Africa has made recognizable improvement in its fight against corruption, said Liphoko.

"The government has tested mechanisms and bodies dealing with allegations of corruption, and we should recognize the on-going work done by such bodies to root out corruption," he stressed.

Since the advent of democracy in 1994, the country has adopted a series of anti-corruption legislations, including the Promotion of Access to Information Act, the Promotion of Access to Justice Act, the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act, the Public Finance Management Act and the Municipal Finance Management Act.

South Africa is a signatory to the United Nations Convention against Corruption.

"These laws form a solid legislative basis to fight corruption. As a signatory to the Convention, we are obliged to implement a wide range of anti-corruption measures aimed to promote the prevention, detection and sanctioning of corruption," said Liphoko.

As envisaged by the National Development Plan, South Africa will be a society in which citizens do not offer bribes and have the confidence and knowledge to hold public and private officials to account, and in which leaders have integrity and high ethical standards in 2030.

"Our efforts should be focused on making this vision a reality, " Liphoko said.

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