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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


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Prof. Johan Grobbelaar part of history
2010-09-23

Prof. Johan Grobbelaar from the Department of Plant Sciences at the recent 31st Congress of the International Limnological Society (SIL), which was held in Cape Town.
Photo: Supplied

The 31st Congress of the International Limnological Society (SIL) was recently held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC).

Prof. Johan Grobbelaar from the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of the Free State (UFS), who is also the chairperson of the local organising committee (LOC), worked hard for six years to secure the bid to host the congress in South Africa. The LOC consisted of Prof. Grobbelaar, Prof. Brian Allanson, Prof. Jenny Day, Dr Carin van Ginkel and Dr Mike Silberbauer.

SIL was founded in 1922 to further the study and understanding of all aspects of limnology, the science of inland aquatic ecosystems and their management.

Congresses are held every three years and this was the first time that SIL met on the African continent.

Almost 400 delegates from 42 countries attended this congress where the state of the science of limnology was presented with two keynote speakers, six plenary lectures, 230 oral and 76 poster presentations, mostly running in five parallel sessions. Exhibitions displayed some of South Africa’s role players as well as the latest equipment from abroad. Delegates could also join pre- and post-congress excursions and the new SIL journal, Inland Waters, was launched at the congress.

Many of the presentations dealt with water as a limited resource, pollution problems and the impact of climate change. The congress resolved that SIL would play a more prominent role in creating awareness of problems impacting on inland waters and also afforded solutions. The 32nd SIL congress will be held in Budapest, Hungary in 2013.
 

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