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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

Newly operational sequencing unit in genomics at UFS
2016-09-09

Description: Next Generation Sequencing  Tags: Next Generation Sequencing

Dr Martin Nyaga and his research assistant,
Tshidiso Mogotsi in the Next Generation
Sequencing Laboratory.
Photo: Charl Devenish

The Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) unit at the UFS was established as an interdisciplinary facility under the Directorate for Research Development, Faculty of Health Sciences and Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences.

The aim of the NGS facility is to aid internal and external investigators undertaking studies on Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) sequencing, assembly and bioinformatics approaches using the more advanced Illumina MiSeq NGS platform.

The NGS unit became operational in 2016 and is managed by Dr Martin Nyaga and administered through the office of the Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences, under the leadership of Prof Gert Van Zyl. Dr Nyaga has vast experience in microbial genomics, having done his PhD in Molecular Virology.

He has worked and collaborated with globally recognised centres of excellence in Prokaryotic and Eukaryotic genomics, namely the J. Craig Venter Institute and the Laboratory of Viral Metagenomics, Rega Institute, among others.

The unit has undertaken several projects and successfully generated data on bacterial, viral and human genomes. Currently, work is ongoing on bacterial and fungal metagenomics studies through 16S rRNA sequencing.

In addition, the unit is also working on plasmid/insert sequencing and whole genome sequencing of animal and human rotaviruses. The unit has capacity to undertake other kinds of panels like the HLA, Pan-cancer and Tumor 15 sequencing, among others.

Several investigators from the UFS including but not limited to Prof Felicity Burt, Prof Wijnand Swart, Dr Frans O’Neil, Dr Trudi O'Neill, Dr Charlotte Boucher, Dr Marieka Gryzenhout and Dr Kamaldeen Baba are actively in collaboration with the NGS unit.

The unit has also invested in other specialised equipment such as the M220 Focused-ultrasonicator (Covaris), 2100 Bioanalyzer system (Agilent) and the real-time PCR cycler, the Rotor-Gene Q (Qiagen), which both the UFS and external investigators can use for their research.

Investigators working on molecular and related studies are encouraged to engage with Dr Nyaga on how they would like to approach their genomics projects at the UFS NGS unit. 

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