Investigating corruption

It has always been our concern that the issues of tribalism, corruption and abuse of authority have not received the appropriate attention from government, partly because no mechanism currently exists to deal effectively with issues that appear to fall outside the normal bounds of Governance.

When we  raised issue of tribal balance we were accused of being sensational. When we questioned integrity we were accused of groveling in the gutter. These issues are now coming up from among the very people that appeared to be supportive of the Government in condemning us.

We will not be surprised if our questioning of such corruption as the award of the oil deal to Trafigura will feature in future revelations when aggrieved members of Government leave office under a cloud. They will then spill the beans.

This is the nature of unprincipled people, opportunists and hypocrites who take advantage of situation to command influence by blackmail.

These issues will not go away by edict or government pronouncement. People of goodwill must be engaged to find lasting solution. Embracing the profligate to win their silence and favor is not a solution, it is simply postponing the day of reckoning that will surely come.

  While there is still time there must be a deliberate policy of addressing the various fault lines, otherwise the government will be held to ransom by people who may have information and therefore blackmail the system into silence.

South Africa has the office of the ombudsman which has general oversight of Government and will investigate and make a determination of matters which may not be necessarily legal but which impinge on morality and ethical conduct of Government.

The ombudsman will for example investigate if contracts entered into by Government were properly executed or will indeed investigate the amounts and contracts involved in the construct of President Jacob Zuma’s house- Nkandla.

From start we were concerned about regional balance in Cabinet, not that we wanted jobs but because we feared that some unscrupulous politicians would use it create division and hatred in the country. The fact that the vast majority in the ruling party were silent did not mean the absence of undercurrents of discontent.

We identified this problem and have consistently called for redress. It is still not too later, something can be done to ensure that some kind of balance is attained.

We have equally spoken about corruption and integrity. It is very difficult to report and secure an investigation into corruption because the current Anti Corruption Commission is moribund and more importantly because the Act itself imposes a number of strictures and limitations as to the manner in which investigations can be conducted.

It is for this reason that we would urgently call on Government to study and determine the role of the Investigator General. This office has no meaningful role as it hardly engages in active and real life investigations of contentious matters concerning the Governance of the country.

The office needs to be elevated to the level of the South African ombudsman where systemic corruption which arises because of weak oversight systems can be investigated and corrected in real time, before too much damage is done.

Our Governance system is currently characterized by too much discretionary power, monopolistic power, conflicting incentives and above all impunity.

Even the Judiciary which should rise above the political fray is presently embroiled in a struggle for power with the executive, but this is a struggle in which the executive has the upper hand as it controls resources.

Corruption is a pervasive cancer which is the root cause of poverty because resources that should be applied to causes of development are diverted to rewarding patronage and political favours, and unless serious measures are taken to deliberately set high standards of integrity and ethics levels corruption will erode and diminish genuine efforts at development.

We should not wait until situations disintegrate before we take corrective measures.