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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

Agriculture must adapt to change
2008-11-28

 

At the launch of "50 years of agriculture" at the UFS were, from the left: Mr Corwyn Botha: Chairman: Agri Business Chamber and Managing Director: Cape Agri Group, Mr Motsepe Matlala, President of NAFU, Mr Hans van der Merwe, Executive Head: Agri SA, Prof. Herman van Schalkwyk: Dean: Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the UFS, and Mr Sugar Ramakarane, Head: Department of Agriculture, Free State Province.
Photo: Lacea Loader

 “The biggest factor driving agriculture today is change. Our major challenge is to adapt to this changing environment.” This was stated by Prof. Herman van Schalkwyk, Dean of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the University of the Free State (UFS) during the recent celebration of the faculty’s “50 years in agriculture”.

Prof. Van Schalkwyk stated that the most important changes include power relationships in supply chains, consumer demand, new products and technology in agriculture, government action and developments in neighbouring states. “At the moment there is very little cooperation between small-scale farmers, small-scale farmers and commercial farmers and farmers and processors. There are also low levels of processing, low levels of value adding and a lack of creative thinking in agriculture," he said.

“This must change – we need comprehensive agricultural support and new business ideas in agriculture. We need better infrastructure, value chain financing and improved institutional support,” he said.

Speaking about agriculture and institutional co-operation in the Free State, Mr Sugar Ramakarane, Chief Director of the Free State Department of Agriculture, said that the UFS plays a vital role in bringing together organised agriculture in the province. “The responsibility of transforming our economy cannot be done by government alone. We need partners like the UFS to assist us with bringing together the two most important stakeholders of the agricultural sector, namely the National Farmers’ Union (NAFU) and Free State Agriculture. You can assist us with harnessing co-operation and providing practical solutions," he said

Mr Ramakarane said that his department is aware of the university’s good work with emerging farmers. “But, I want to encourage the university to help us with skills transfer and the development of the emerging farmers. You can play a vital role in developing a mentorship programme. Yours remains a central and critical role of being torch bearers in guiding the transformation agenda of our country," he said.

In his contribution on the challenges of small scale farmers in South Africa and the role of the university, Mr Motsepe Matlala, President of NAFU, said that unity in organised agriculture and working together with other stakeholders has become even more crucial with regard to the global challenges now faced by the country. “The university should take the lead in guiding all farmers on how to respond to, among others, the global financial turmoil and politics, developments in trade negotiations, food prices, input costs and the availability of energy," he said.

“If the UFS, and more specifically the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, is to continue to play a leading role in academia as well as in the production of research that matters to the growth and development of this country, it must adopt an approach that seeks to harness the capacity of everyone in an inclusive manner. The strides already made in this regard must be applauded,” Mr Matlala said.

Speaking on the future challenges in agriculture and the role of universities, Mr Hans van der Merwe, Executive Head of Agri SA said that South Africa has not spent money on agricultural development in a long time. “We must increase our product capacity in the agricultural sector. Universities must focus on cultivating enough expertise and the skills necessary to manage the resources and capacity needed," he said. In his view, South Africa must also focus on technological advancement in agriculture as this has also been neglected in the past. He urged universities to provide best-practice education and to look at international trends in agricultural training. “That is why we should not only focus our attention on South Africa, but on southern Africa,” Mr van der Merwe said.

In conclusion to the day’s programme, Mr Corwyn Botha, Chairperson of the Agricultural Business Chamber, Managing Director of the Cape Agri Group and former Kovsie stated that: “If you want to be an example of leadership, people around you must do better because you are there. A university should evaluate itself in this context. You cannot create solutions to problems with the same attitude in which the problems were created."

Media Release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl.stg@ufs.ac.za  
28 November 2008
 

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