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13 October 2020 | Story Prof John Mubangizi | Photo Sonia du Toit
Prof John C Mubangizi is Dean: Faculty of Law, University of the Free State.

South Africans are sick and tired of corruption. They are angry, frustrated and despondent. And they have every reason to be. South Africa has many problems: crime, unemployment, poverty, gender-based violence, inequality, low economic growth and now – in common with many other countries – COVID-19. The list goes on and on. What makes corruption the biggest threat among all these is that it cuts across all of them and impacts on their gravity in different ways. 

The South African Constitution envisages a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights. The way things are going, that society is never likely to happen. That is because corruption has been, and continues to be, the greatest threat to any possibility of realising that constitutional dream. In South Africa, like everywhere else where corruption is rampant, it occurs both in the public and private sectors, where it affects democracy and human rights by deteriorating institutions and diminishing public trust in government. It impairs the ability of government to fulfil its obligations and ensure accountability in the delivery of economic and social services like healthcare, education, clean water, housing, and social security. This is because corruption diverts funds into private pockets – which impedes delivery of services – thereby perpetuating poverty, inequality, injustice and unfairness. The problem is aggravated when government is the main culprit. “Government” here, of course, refers to the dictionary meaning of the term, namely, “the group of people with the authority to govern a country or state”.

Corruption existed in ancient Egypt, China and Greece

There are those who argue that corruption is as old as mankind and, therefore, it is here to stay. Indeed, corruption is known to have existed in ancient Egypt, ancient China and ancient Greece. In Robert Bolt’s 16th Century play A Man for All Seasons, Richard Rich’s opening remark is “But every man has his price.” In the 1836 play The Government Inspector, Nikolai Gogol cleverly satirised the human greed, stupidity and extensive political corruption in Imperial Russia at the time. And in a recent article in The Conversation (28 August 2020), Steven Friedman wonders why South Africans express shock at corruption when “it is perhaps the country’s oldest tradition.” He locates the advent of corruption in South Africa at the arrival of Jan van Riebeeck in 1652, through to the ensuing colonialism and apartheid. He argues that in reality, “corruption has been a constant feature of South African political life for much of the past 350 years. It is deeply embedded and it will take a concerted effort, over years, not days, to defeat it”. 

Agreed, but does it have to be that way? At the time of Jan van Riebeeck and during the 350 years of colonialism and apartheid, we did not have the legal framework that we have now. Here is a brief overview of that framework.

Read full article here

Opinion article by Professor John C Mubangizi, Dean: Faculty of Law, University of the Free State


News Archive

UFS to award honorary doctorate to Maria Ramos
2004-12-08

The Council of the University of the Free State (UFS) recently approved the awarding of an honorary doctorate to Ms Maria Ramos, Group Chief Executive of Transnet in April 2005. A total of five honorary doctorandi will be honored.

The other doctorandi are Proff Jan Groenewald (D Sc (hc)), Jaap Durand (D Phil (hc)), Sampie Terreblanche (C Dom (hc)) and Anthon Heyns (MD (hc)).

Me Ramos will receive an honorary doctorate in Economics (P hD (Economics) (hc)) for the large contribution she made to the establishment of a prudent fiscal and macro-economic policy in South Africa and hence, to the restoration of the financial credibility of the country in the eyes of domestic and foreign investors. Ms Ramos was the Director General of the National Treasury from 1996-2003.

She obtained the MSc-degree in Economics in 1992 from the University of London and was awarded a British Council Scholarship (Helen Suzman award) in the same year and in 1991. During the early nineties she was among others project leader of the ANC’s Macro-economic Research Group and also a member of the team that negotiated chapters on finance in the interim Constitution of South Africa. She was a research associate at the Centre for the Study of the South African Economy and International Finance at the London School of Economics and also lectured at the Universities of South Africa and the Witwatersrand.

“It is a great privilege for us to honor Ms Ramos and the other doctorandi in their different fields of expertise. This once again serves as an example of the UFS’s policy to give recognition to people who excel and make a difference,” said Prof Frederick Fourie, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS.

Prof Jan Groenewald will receive an honorary doctorate for his life-long commitment to the establishment and development of Agricultural Economics as a subject field in South Africa and in Africa and his various contributions to the UFS. During his career, Prof Groenewald received various awards among others in 1998 when he received the Stals Prize for Economics from the South African Academy for Science and Art and in 1990 when he received an honorary medal from the South African Society for Agricultural Economics.

Prof Jaap Durand will receive an honorary doctorate in Philosophy for his pioneering work on various fields in the South African society. He obtained his Masters degree in Philosophy from the UFS and contributed to almost 60 articles and collections. Prof Durand has a colourful career as academic manager: from professor in Systematic Theology and dean of the Faculty of Theology at the University of the Western Cape to Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the same university. He was the ombudsman of the University of Stellenbosch from 2002-2003.

Prof Sampie Terreblanche will receive an honorary doctorate in Economics for the important role he played, and is still playing, to keep the debate about and the need for socio-economic and socio-political reform in South Africa going. Prof Terreblanche started his career as a lecturer at the UFS. In 1992 the Stals Prize for Economics was awarded to him by the South African Academy for Science and Art. Prof Terreblanche was also a founding member of ASSET, an organisation addressing the problems of poverty, inequality and social injustice in South Africa.

Prof Anthon Heyns, Chief Executive Officer of the South African National Blood Service, will receive an honorary doctorate in Medicine. Prof Heyns is a well-known international researcher in Hematology and recently received a Centenary Medal from the UFS for his strong role and national prominence as expert and leading figure in establishing and developing Hematology at the UFS. He was the first head of the UFS’s Department of Hematology and is also co-editor of the only Afrikaans hand book of Hematology. He serves among others as a council member and member of the executive management of the South African Medical Research Council. On the international front he serves on at least five committees of the World Health Organisation based in Geneve, Switzerland. He has two honorary appointments as professor respectively at the UFS and University of the Witwatersrand.

Media release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Media Representative
Tel: (051) 401-2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl.stg@mail.uovs.ac.za
8 December 2004

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