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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 postdoctoral Fellow expands international opportunities for women in Science Communication
2016-12-13

Description: Mikateko Höppener Tags: Mikateko Höppener 

Mikateko Höppener, postdoctoral Fellow at the
Centre for Research on Higher Education and
Development (CRHED), University of the Free State (UFS),
who was selected as one of five South African women
to participate in the Best Practice in Science
Communication UK study tour.

“Often, the power lies in our own hands as individuals to take the initiative, be curious about opportunities to learn, develop an interest to make a positive contribution in society through our research, and make use of our networks within and outside of academia to effect positive change.”

This is according to Mikateko Höppener, a postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre for Research on Higher Education and Development (CRHED), at the University of the Free State (UFS), who was selected as one of five South African women to participate in the Best Practice in Science Communication UK study tour. This was part of the British Council and Academy of Science South Africa (ASSAf) women in science project.

Höppener said she saw this as an opportunity to expand opportunities for women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). “The whole experience reinforced my conviction that there is a lot of untapped potential for young people to practise and enhance science communication in South Africa for the betterment of our communities,” she said.

During her visit to the UK, Höppener was exposed to an international networking platform of science communication practitioners and stakeholders such as the Director for Development of Vitae, departments at The Royal Society, science journalists at the BBC World Service, policy advisers and public engagement teams at the Welcome Trust, the Director of SciDev.net, and the Science Adviser for STEM Education and Public Engagement at the British Council.

Höppener said each of these meetings had highly interactive presentations and discussions with members of various organisations and the South African delegation. 

Being selected for the science communication fellowship and attending the study tour was not only personally and professionally rewarding for Höppener, it also enabled her to pass on what she had learnt to fellow emerging women researchers in South Africa.

Earlier this year, she hosted a WiSTEM (Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Science Communication and Engagement Workshop at the UFS and through press releases and radio interviews, brought positive attention to the UFS to inspire young women across the country to get involved in science communication training.

“I intend to establish a science communication and engagement centre at the UFS where ongoing training, mentorship and support will be offered to young researchers to learn how to orient their knowledge and research to community development through science communication,” said Höppener.

The Best Practice in Science Communication UK study tour took place from 24 to 28 October 2016 as part of the Newton Fund Professional Development Programme South Africa.

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