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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 academics present papers at major conference
2009-07-23

 
Pictured from the left are: Prof Neethling, Prof Edna van Harte (Dean of the Faculty of Military Science, Stellenbosch University), Dr Thomas Mandrup (from the Royal Danish Defence College and co-organiser of the conference), and Prof Heidi Hudson.
Photo: Supplied


Prof Theo Neethling from the Department of Political Science was recently invited to address a conference on the theoretical basis for states’ use of military instruments of force and scholarly progress in the understanding of armed conflict in Africa held at Stellenbosch University (SU) on 11 and 12 June 2009. This conference, themed Strategic Theory and Contemporary Africa Conflicts, was presented by the Faculty of Military Science of SU in collaboration with the Faculty of Military and Strategic Studies of the Royal Danish Defence College in Copenhagen. The conference was premised on the point that the way in which states choose to become involved in, orchestrate or oppose armed conflicts in terms of peace intervention action, normally originates from theoretical thinking well-grounded in a national strategy. This was the first conference in South Africa that focused on the nature of such a national strategy, but also on how the incidence of recent armed conflicts in Africa could be explained in terms of this theoretical thinking. In view of this Prof Neethling’s paper was titled, “UN peacekeeping operations in Africa: Reflections on developments, trends and the way forward”. His paper focused on recent and current UN peacekeeping operations with special reference to multinational challenges in the African context.


Prof. Heidi Hudson from the Centre for African Studies also attended the conference in Stellenbosch on Strategic Theory and Contemporary Africa Conflicts. In addition she was invited to present a paper at the Peacekeeping Africa 2009 conference held on 24 and 25 June 2009 at Gallagher Estate, Midrand. The event brings together individuals who are experts in defence, peacekeeping, policing, foreign service and other government bodies to share knowledge and to discuss the latest developments. This year’s conference was attended by more than 100 experts from all over Africa, with strong representation from the UN and the International Red Cross. Prof. Hudson’s paper was entitled “Peacebuilding through a gender lens”. Her presentation examined lessons learnt with regard to implementation of a gender perspective in Côte d’Ivoire and Rwanda. These case studies point towards an empirical link between women’s inclusion in peace processes and the quality of peace finally achieved. Prof. Hudson warned that inattention to the differential needs of both women and men during conflict and in the post-conflict reconstruction phase may perpetuate the violence discourses which sustained the conflict in the first place.

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