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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 management closes down all three campuses on 21 October 2015
2015-10-20

The management of the University of the Free State (UFS) has decided to close down all three its campuses on Wednesday 21 October 2015.

This means that academic activities on undergraduate level will not take place and administrative services will be unavailable on the Bloemfontein, Qwaqwa and South Campuses. However, essential services such as IT, Protection Services, laboratories that cannot be left unattended, and the switchboard will be available.

This afternoon the UFS management and the Central Student Representative Council (CSRC) met on the Bloemfontein Campus to discuss fee increases for 2016. Protesting students outside the Main Building moved outside the main gate onto Nelson Mandela Avenue. The South African Police Services (SAPS) dispersed these students and the university’s Protection Services is in control of the situation on campus. All residences are being monitored and we are ensuring that all students on campus are safe. Management is still engaging with the CSRC to find a feasible and responsible response to students’ demand.

Students staying on the campuses and staff performing essential services will be able to access the campuses tomorrow.

Continuance of the academic programme and writing of tests?

Following the closing down of all three campuses today - which means that academic activities are not taking place - the management of the University of the Free State (UFS) kindly request that students should contact their lecturer(s) for further information if they have tests scheduled. Academic information is also available on Blackboard. Please remember that the announcement of module marks by departments on the Bloemfontein and Qwaqwa Campuses is on Friday 23 October 2015 and that the main end-of-year examinations commences on Monday 26 October 2015.


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