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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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University community join hands in the walk for peace and justice
2016-03-02

Description: Prayer walk Callie Human Centre Tags: Prayer walk

The Campus Ministries Forum and South African Council of Churches (Free State) have organised a walk for peace and justice from the Main Building to the Callie Human Centre on the Bloemfontein Campus of the University of the Free State (UFS) on Tuesday 1 March 2016. This walk was followed by a prayer meeting at the Callie Human Centre.

Pastors from the Campus Ministries Forum of the South African Council of Churches (Free State) led a group of more than 350 students and staff in praise and worship, followed by prayers in English, Afrikaans, and Sesotho.

A significant gesture at the event was the church leader’s plea for peace and solutions for the conflict at the UFS.

Bishop Monty Mabale, Chairperson of the South African Council of Churches, read an extract from the declaration compiled by the pastors ministering to staff and students at the UFS.

“We are saddened by the violence and vandalism that took place on and off campus.  We understand that there are many reasons for frustration and anger, which lead to tensions at the end of last year and again now. We also understand that there are different perspectives on these developments and the complexities underlying to this. However, we cannot agree with the hate speech, the continuous blaming of others, the instigation of violence, and the damage being caused to this precious institution and its commitment to the ideal and practices of reconciliation and a proper education for every student.

“Because we believe in the justice and mercy of God in Christ, let us seek His justice in a compassionate way. Let us resolve to glorify his name in the way we enter into dignified discussions when addressing those matters we perceive to be injustices, and seek for solutions. Let us be critical of our own biased perceptions, opening ourselves to the practice of listening to the viewpoints of others and learning from each other, while discerning the will of God in our society together,” Bishop Mabale said.

The forum and council also wrote a special prayer for UFS students, staff, parents, and management:

Our Father in Heaven
•    You have created us all as unique, special people, each with a great destiny.
•    You have an awesome plan for our University, and value every person working and studying here.
•    We have not respected Your heart and opinion of everyone on campus, and so we have sinned against You.
•    Forgive us where we did not follow Your example of reconciliation, restoration, and forgiveness through the blood of Christ, Your Son, on the cross. We need You to show us what You expect of us: grace, mercy, respect, and tolerance for one another from a place of gratefulness and humility.
•    We are grateful for the opportunity and honour You have given us to be involved in this institution.
•    We repent and accept afresh Your commandment to love You and to love our neighbour as we love ourselves.
•    You are saying to us: “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” We, as an institution, believe and receive this promise You gave to us.

In Jesus Name we pray,
Amen.

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