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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

Leadership is about people, Tsedu
2009-09-16

 
Mr Mathatha Tsedu, Head of the Journalism Academy at Media24
Photo: Dries Myburgh

Modern-day leaders have neither the inclination nor the will to lead the very people who have entrusted them with that responsibility, said Mr Mathatha Tsedu, Head of the Journalism Academy at Media24.

The former City Press editor delivered the 2nd King Moshoeshoe Memorial Lecture at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein last night.

He said the current state of leadership in South Africa was characterised by patronage and self-enrichment.

“The poorest of the poor and our affection for them extends only to public meetings where we mouth socialist slogans. But in reality we want nothing to do with them and they have to fend for themselves,” he said.

“Leadership has to be more than just the power of a mayor, premier, MEC or minister to dish out tenders to friends for projects that never get completed. Projects whose real legacy is the fact that the friend of the leader now drives a Hummer.”

He said leadership had to be about people but acknowledged the fact that it would not happen unless people themselves insisted on that.

“King Moshoeshoe teaches us that leadership is about taking decisions and taking risks. Not only as leaders but more especially as members of the community,” he said.

“We can address our critical challenges only if citizens’ groups, business, labour and broader civil society actively engage with the state to improve delivery and enforce an accountable government.”

He appealed to leaders to follow the example of King Moshoeshoe and always put people first, and involve them, in the decisions that they take.

“This is about concern for others and for self. It is about compassion in leadership and in society, it is about caring beyond own concerns. It is about being involved and engaged. These are the attributes that I feel King Moshoeshoe left us as a legacy of leadership. Leadership not only of the leaders but of the led,” he said.

Media Release
Issued by: Mangaliso Radebe
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2828
Cell: 078 460 3320
E-mail: radebemt.stg@ufs.ac.za  
10 September 2009

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