Education Ambassadors SA

Corruption: A cancer that eats away our moral fibre

Written By: Charles Mphokela

Corruption has become a favourite past time for many of our people, to many it has been a betrayal of many dreams and aspirations for a better life. In fact it is being committed so frequent that it no longer comes as shock to South Africans, one can venture to suggest that it is has become a culture or conversely an “in thing”.  In the past weeks media outlets were flooded with reports that 47% of South Africans had bribed at least one government official in the last twelve (12) months. This should serve as sufficient evidence to all of us that our society is destined for doom and irrecoverable moral damage.

This type of behaviour leads to young people thinking that by being corrupt one might have attained the key to success, rather than pursuing education and following a certain type of career.  Corruption is further seen as a way to gain power and or material wealth; in a sense that day in and day out we witness people who occupy high offices in our government structures being the very people who commit heinous acts of corruption. The government has been very lenient if not dragging its feet in prosecuting those found guilty of corrupt and unacceptable conduct whilst in public office.

In October 2011 The head of Special Investigating Unit (SIU), Willie Hofmeyr reported that between R25-billion and R30-billion of the state’s annual procurement budget alone was lost to corruption, incompetence and negligence. Funds that have been misappropriated would have been put to better use such as tackling unemployment and many other social ills that continue to put our people in perpetual poverty and suffering. This is further exacerbated by corruption at municipalities where most of our people go for help; the Auditor-General has found many of them failing to meet their mandate and a great number of them are under administration.

Our government should consider combatting corruption as one of their immediate forces to root out, for the sake of our economic growth and development of South Africa. Through mainstream media, every day we witness the frustration and anger fuelled by corrupt and maladministration by government officials who are the ones that are supposed to be the custodians of people’s rights as set out in the Constitution. Many of our state (if not all) enterprises are clouded by under-performance, funds being unaccounted for and many other short comings, constant resignations and vacant positions, all these are evidence that drastic measures need to be taken.

Corruption does not only take place in the public sector, it is equally prevalent in the private sector.  Big corporations act as cartels monopolising prices, services and so on to their benefit and detriment of the many. Many of our prominent leaders have in the past accepted kickbacks from some of the big companies. These corporations delay the development that is much needed by people who are supposed to be the beneficiaries of the economic growth we’re experiencing in our country. A study on corruption in the Private Sector 2006 highlights how favouritism and nepotism are common place in the private sector.

Business operations in South Africa cannot be called corruption-free. The World Bank surveys of 2007 show that 15% of companies surveyed expect to make facilitation payments to public officials to get things done. According to the same study, there is a very high level of agreement between companies surveyed that bribes are paid in order to bypass arduous regulatory requirements to get approvals to which companies are legally entitled.  This suggests that many companies pay bribes in order to deal with the country’s cumbersome regulatory environment, indicating that the tendency towards true corrupt intent outweighs the tendency to act corruptly out of necessity.

Corruption is also committed by greedy rich people in the private sector; billions are being taken outside South Africa to avoid paying taxes. A culture of materialism, that of being self-centered and many other alien forms that encourage corruption to be the order of the day should never be tolerated and condoned. Most of our leaders mislead the young people by promoting “it’s our turn to eat” and “I didn’t participate in the struggle to be poor” messages they so eloquently convey. Leaders are supposed to be the ones who display self-sacrifice and undying spirit of love, compassion and empathy to the needy.

Our country’s regulatory environment must do away with politicisation of the public service by changing the cadre development policy, which promotes an environment conducive to patronage and nepotism. All business that directly affects the public sector must be accountable and transparent to ensure good governance and creating a conducive landscape for national growth and development. As a society we should heed the call to stop corruption in its steps by examining situations around us that further encourage this evil practice to flourish and lack of accountability.  

Nevertheless, South Africa has begun ratifying various international and regional conventions and protocols that bind the country to taking action on preventing and combatting corruption. Government signaled that it had committed itself to establishing anti-corruption ventures with appropriate human resource complement.  Many initiatives have been undertaken by concerned about the high level of corruption; such as the organisation by the name, Corruption Watch.  Hopefully such organisations will help in mobilising and getting people to come forward with whatever information that may lead to prosecuting any people or companies who breach the South African law.

‘To oppose corruption in government is the highest obligation of patriotism’

-G. Edward Griffin

The above article is also published in the Skills Summit Website

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