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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

“Deploy your education and not connections,” Chancellor tells graduates
2012-05-16

 

Qwaqwa Autumn Graduation
Photo: Thabo Kessah
16 May 2012

Our Qwaqwa Campus conferred 424 degrees, diplomas and certificates at this year’s autumn graduation ceremony held on 12 May 2012.

Amongst the degrees conferred were two doctorates in Polymer Science, two Master’s of Arts in Geography and African Languages, respectively, five Master’s of Science degrees in Physics (3) and Polymer Science (2) and 37 honours degrees in Education, Zoology, Physics, Botany and Polymer Science.

In their congratulatory messages, both the Vice-Rector: Institutional Affairs, Prof. Teuns Verschoor, and the Chancellor, Dr Khotso Mokhele, challenged the graduates to start focusing their attention beyond their graduation on what they both referred to as “the real world”.

“Graduation ceremonies are a fantastic event, but you must never lose sight of appreciating the support given by those around you,” said Dr Mokhele.

“This hall was full of shouting and yes, you must bask in that glory, knowing that you have achieved part of your goals. Yes, this is your moment, so shine. You deserve it. You have earned it.”

“However, this noise also means you must go out there and face the real world. You are graduating in a model country on how people can reconcile, despite their painful and divided past. You deserve all the accolades, but that model country is disappearing before your eyes. How can you mess up what Mandela, Biko, Sobukwe, Nardine Gordimer lived and fought for? How can you mess up such a good thing?” Dr Mokhele asked of an attentive audience that included proud parents and siblings, as well as educators and learners from the Thabo Mofutsanyana District.

“Go out there and deploy your education and not your connections, as these are embedded in corruption. Go out there and help get rid of the patronage system where hard-workers are more likely to be constructively dismissed as they stand in the way of those with corrupt tendencies. Save this country from becoming another Zimbabwe. Let us do whatever it takes to save this country. Let these matriculants who are here today want to walk that red carpet with pride in the next few years,”,said Dr Mokhele.

Dignitaries in attendance included the former Chief Minister of the former Qwaqwa homeland, Dr T K Mopeli; the Executive Mayor of the Dihlabeng Local Municipality, Councillor Tjhetane Mofokeng; Dr SWF Moloi (Thabo Mofutsanyana Education District) and representatives from various government departments.
 

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