Cosatu takes on corruption

2012-01-27 00:00

CORRUPTION will not be eradicated in South Africa while factions and divisions triumph in the ruling party, Cosatu secretary-general Zwelinzima Vavi said yesterday.

Speaking at the launch of Corruption Watch (CW), the civil society anti-corruption group in Johannesburg, Vavi said factions provide a “perfect cover” so that “even those caught with their hands in the cookie jar refuse to resign from their post, as they enjoy immunity and guaranteed indemnity provided by their factions”.

CW is a not-for-profit organisation established by Cosatu as a result of distress calls from several quarters that active steps need to be taken with regard to the exceptionally high levels of corruption.

David Lewis, former chairperson of the Competitions Tribunal, is the executive director of CW.

Other board members are former Eskom chairperson Bobby Godsell, former Gauteng education MEC Professor Mary Metcalfe, former home affairs director-general Mavuso Msimang, Judge Kate O’Regan and Archbishop Emeritus Njongonkulu Ndungane.

Vavi blamed the ANC for the extremely high levels of corruption in South Africa, saying politicians are so busy protecting their comrades that the fight against corruption, which costs the government about R30 billion a year, takes second place.

Corruption is spreading like wildfire and threatens to destroy South Africa’s future, he said.

Justice minister Jeff Radebe and Public Protector Advocate Thuli Madonsela were guest speakers along with Vavi.

CW has a website and SMS number where people can report corruption anonymously.

An investigation team of five trained detectives and legal experts will monitor the website and SMSes, analyse information and refer cases to the relevant law enforcers.

Role players who are brought into cases will be asked to comment and suggest possible solutions.

Political analyst and economist Moeletsi Mbeki told the Witness’s sister newspaper Beeld he is very positive about CW. He says it is different from other anti-corruption initiatives because it has been established by civil society and is completely independent of the government.

“The civil rights community is not reliant on donors or government, which means they cannot be easily manipulated.”

Cosatu has learned a costly lesson in the past few years, Mbeki said.

“They pleaded for Zuma not to be brought to court on allegations of corruption, but Cosatu has woken up in the meantime and realised that corruption is a threat to its interests regardless of who is responsible for it.”

Vavi also attacked corrupt public servants who abuse their positions to enrich their family and friends. He said they must choose between pursuing business interests or serving the public, but could not do both.

He said there should be a rule prohibiting this practice. The trade union will take the matter further at the ANC’s policy congress in June.

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