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Chris Khanye
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Human rights, institutionalised corruption

22 March 2014, 20:10

“Human rights are indivisible and interdependent, and the consequences of corruption governance are multiple and touch on human rights i.e. civil, political economic, social and cultural, as well as the right to development” – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.  Also corruption leads to violation of the government’s human rights obligation to take appropriate steps to fight the scourge of institutionalized corruption.

South Africa is a signatory to UN Charters on Human Rights and Anti-corruption but that is meaningless if government does not comply.

Fellow compatriots who on the 21st March 1960 embarked on that fateful protest did so knowing the risks involved. The identity books called “Passes” then restricted and violated the human rights of Africans – political, economical, educational and cultural. The martyrs knew and understood the high price for justice and freedom. Finally after then the UN declared apartheid a crime against humanity and that helped to galvanize international solidarity. And that spelled the beginning of the end of the system of institutionalized segregation and oppression.

But institutionalized corruption seeks to trample on the memory of the martyrs whose demise helped many of us attain the “freedom” we are enjoying today.  Corruption is a threat to that hard won freedom.

Chapter 7, 152(1) of our Constitution details the mandate of local government –

a)       To provide democratic and accountable government for local communities

b)       To ensure the provision of services to the communities in a sustainable manner

c)       To promote social and economic development

How many dysfunctional municipalities litter the landscape of the Republic?  Municipalities where corruption is endemic and local communities do not receive sustainable and equitable service?  How many communities whose economic activity and participation is violated because of patronage?  Many communities have to resort to violent protest to attain services guaranteed to them in the Republic’s Constitution.

The martyrs of the 21st March 1960 were protesting against a diabolical system of institutionalized segregation and oppression.  Today still mostly Africans still protest against a diabolical institutionalized system of corruption that deprives and violates their human rights.

Institutionalized corruption also segregates and oppresses those who are not politically connected and the price for their peaceful protests is still high – Death! 

There is still lots of imbalances that are a legacy of apartheid and still need to be addressed. But when communities must settle for sub-standard housing, incomplete toilets, well orchestrated water cut offs, sub-standard municipal infrastructure, job for pals (patronage) and fruitless expenditure. When in Phomolong Tembisa a tenderpreneur throws boiling water at a worker for demanding what is due to him. Then know it is still human rights violation post apartheid.

Some Provinces are paralyzed by institutionalized corruption and as a result public service is affected adversely. The Eastern Cape is one of the worst Provinces of the Republic where institutionalized corruption has paralyzed e.g. the Health Department. Limpopo was once paralyzed by institutionalized corruption and learners’ education suffered as a result. Although that mishap varies, but most clinics in the country do not have the necessary chronic medication and all that malice is with compliments of institutionalized corruption.

Today’s human rights violations as a result cannot be blamed on apartheid and doing that would be shifting blame and not wanting to admit – We have a corruption problem!

Institutions tasked to fight institutionalized corruption have been purposely weakened by government. The National Prosecuting Authority has been politicized and it is now used to settle political scores. There is no convictions in many cases brought to court because the organs of State that are suppose to arrest, investigate and prosecute have been paralyzed and in most cases the courts cannot convict. Mostly the rich can pursue their cases to the end because of availability of resources. But what about the Human Rights of the citizen in the perpetual black hole?

For year now there’s been prima facie evidence of corruption against many career politicians but to date there’s neither trial nor conviction unless one finds himself/herself on the wrong side of the political fense. Organs of State are too weak or too politicized to even attempt to effect justice. Justice delayed is justice denied! And the alleged offenders continue to violate the public’s human rights with impunity, because – absolutely there’s no consequences for abusing power entrusted to you by the people.

The candidates list to Provincial Legislatures and National Assembly of certain political formations leaves a lot to be desired and one hopeless. Most lists were compiled with political expediency and patronage as a priority and not principle. In fact there is this one political party that never even respects its own elective conferences resolutions on corruption.

And that political formation regularly claims to be at the forefront in the fight against institutionalized corruption. Well their political power is guaranteed by those who subscribe to sentimental politics and worship cult personalities. That party candidate list is nothing but a list of cult personalities and corrupt ruling elite class. 

The ruling corrupt elite class has proposed a Secrecy Bill that will enable them to abuse political power without fear of being exposed by civil society and to frustrate Chapter 9 institutions. The Secrecy Bill shall never result in Good Governance, but Corrupt Governance. But it will definitely result in systematic looting by the power class elite at the expense of the civil society.

The struggle of the martyrs of 21st March 1960 will be in vain if the People do not wrestle back the Power they have entrusted to kleptomaniacs and egomaniacs.

South Africa Today is a animal farm where cult personalities are above the law, racial nationalism is rife and Human Rights violation is institutionalized - segregating the corrupt ruling class elite, politically connected and the rest of us.

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