Let us get rid of the ‘me-first’ culture

2011-07-30 10:11

Let me, from the outset, state the obvious – comrade Julius Malema has not been found guilty of any wrongdoing.

He remains innocent until proven otherwise in a court of law, where he can be given a fair chance to respond to any allegations.

So far, no independent institutions have suggested there is a prima facie case to answer in court.

The allegations in City Press last week, made by a faceless businessman, are pretty serious.

They suggest that Malema is corruptly manipulating tender processes for personal benefit and is involved in what could be deemed extortion.

Cosatu has called on the ANC’s ethics committee, the Special Investigating Unit and the Public Protector to see if there is any truth to these allegations.

Why are we making the call?

Because it will help both the individual who, as a result of the allegations, walks under a dark cloud; as well as the organisation he leads.

Also because the war against corruption is a matter of life and death for our young democracy.

A perception is deepening among Cosatu members, and others outside our ranks, that a culture of impunity is on the rise.

Many serious allegations are frequently reported against government officials and political figures without any senior members assuring the public that they are not true or, where they are found to be true, that appropriate action will be taken.

Keeping mum in the face of such serious allegations is to take our support for granted in the belief that we will eventually forget with the passing of time.

This silence results in many believing that the leadership has become soft on corruption, despite corruption-fighting being one of government and the alliance’s top priorities.

We are thus challenged to remain true to the fundamental principles and culture of our struggle – selflessness and sacrifice.We must defeat the “me-first-and-to-hell-with-everybody-else” culture.

We must stop the growing culture of conspicuous consumption in the face of growing inequalities.

The vast majority of people in both the public and private sectors are honest and law abiding, and are dedicated to building our country and serving its people.

This makes it all the more urgent to get rid of the rotten apples.

Cosatu is playing its part by setting up Corruption Watch, which will probe allegations of corruption from our members and other whistleblowers, and pass on evidence to the police and prosecuting authority.

But the main responsibility must rest with government and the ruling party.

They still have to respond to reports by the Public Protector that the SAPS national commissioner was guilty of “maladministration”.

We are still awaiting President Jacob Zuma’s response to reports of gross misuse of public funds by the cooperative governance minister, and for a statement on how the state security minister could have failed to be aware that his wife was involved in drug trafficking.

These are just a few cases in the mountain of allegations of corruption and abuse of public funds.

The president needs to allay fears that we are sinking into a corruption-ravaged banana republic. 

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