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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 casts its net wider for collaborative partner engagement
2015-10-19

Ms Felicia Mabuza-Suttle and Mr Ndaba Ntsele

The office of Institutional Advancement at the University of the Free State hosted an event on 9 October 2015 in Johannesburg, to engage prospective partners and donors, to showcase its various projects and programmes, and to recognise existing donors for their contributions.

The event, titled “Revenge of the Caterpillar”, prompted a discussion on the story of change at the University of the Free State, focusing on transformation as well as new ways of advancing a University amidst recent events.

The programme director, Mr Ndaba Ntsele, CEO and Director of Pamodzi Holdings and member of the UFS Council, introduced the Vice-Chancellor and Rector, Prof Jonathan Jansen, to the audience. Mr Ntsele expressed his deep respect and confidence in the Vice-Chancellor and his leadership of the university.

Professor Jansen launched his new book, Leading for Change: Race, intimacy, and leadership on divided university campuses, which offers theoretical grounds for thinking about, and transforming, leadership and higher education worldwide. In the context of his book, Prof Jansen discussed inter-racial relationships among students at the UFS and their experiences, which mirror race relations in the country among communities that have come out of a long history of oppression, such as slavery and apartheid.

Prof Jansen also spoke of the challenges that have surfaced nationally on racial symbols on university campuses. “At the UFS, we have dealt with issues concerning racial symbolism.  It is important to lead in times of peace, in order to be able to lead in times of trouble,” he said.

A robust discussion followed, on the way forward for transformation at institutions of higher education, and how this affects communities and the nation at large.   The event was attended by representatives of donor and affiliate organisations of the UFS, such the Nedbank Group, The South African Holocaust and Genocide Foundation, and celebrity guests such as Gareth Cliff, Felicia Mabuza-Suttle and Leanne Manas.



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