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Officials told to resist gifts

2009-02-25 11:46

Johannesburg - Resisting "gifts" was the key to defeating corruption, President Kgalema Motlanthe said on Tuesday.

"We can defeat corruption because the frontline soldiers of corruption are gifts.

"The struggle against corruption also entails political work to ensure that our public servants are at all times conscious of their duty to the communities and are conscious of the dangers of accepting sweeteners, then we can defeat corruption," Motlanthe told community members at a public meeting in Lenasia.

Unpacking the African National Congress' election manifesto, Motlanthe told a crowded auditorium that many people were under the impression that public servants were corrupt when in fact it was often people from the "outside" who used "gifts" to obtain their own ends.

"Many people think it is only public servants who are corrupt... its people from outside who tempt them with these gifts... public servants need to be trained about the dangers of accepting these gifts," he said.

Motlanthe told the audience that it was not the security at the Heathrow Airport in London alone who uncovered the South African Airways crew recently arrested for alleged drug smuggling but a South African security employee who alerted authorities.

A member of the crew allegedly bribed the security guard to "overlook" the contents of his or her bag. The security guard eventually broke down and confessed to the authorities in South Africa who in turn alerted security at the London airport.

Financial crisis

The ANC deputy president told the audience that South Africa faced a unique situation as it faced a national election in the midst of a spiralling global financial crisis, the depths of which still remained a mystery.

He cautioned that it was now the time for all South Africans to "live within their means".

Motlanthe said it was also a time for government to prioritise - detailing what the ANC's priorities would be should they be elected into another term in office after the April 22 polls.

Education, health, crime, job creation, infrastructure development and rural development were the key tenets in the rural party's list of priorities, he said.

Motlanthe said job creation was a key priority as it would assist in enabling people to stand on their own two feet and "restore their dignity".

"We should reduce the numbers reliant on social grants... the struggle for liberation was also a struggle to restore the dignity of our people.

"In the past we said discrimination dehumanises our people and denies them dignity but it is equally true that joblessness, unemployment and abject poverty also denies our people dignity.

"That's why it is important to ensure that our elite in our society ought to be the aged and the young... they must be looked after and be the main recipients of social grants.

"All other able bodied people ought to be able to have job opportunities... so that they can be gainfully employed and therefore live dignified lives.

"Because I'm sure it is demeaning for anyone to survive on social grants only," he said.

Palestine

Motlanthe explained to Lenasia residents, many of whom are strong supporters of the Palestinian cause, why it would be not benefit the Palestinian people for South Africa to cut ties with Israel.

"Now for me, we must express solidarity with the people of Palestine all the time... because they are in fact under occupation.

"That's why we as government will never consider breaking ties with Israel. I'll tell you what happens... essentially when you cut ties with Israel, you cut ties with the people of Palestine and because they are under occupation, they need that contact," he said.

The Palestinian Liberation Organisation, Hamas and Fatah were all welcome to engage with South Africa on its experience under similar duress during apartheid.

The unfolding crisis in Sri Lanka would be on Motlanthe's agenda as he met United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon on Wednesday, he said.

Zuma defended

Motlanthe defended ANC president Jacob Zuma when asked why the ruling party had nominated him as its candidate for president of the republic.

"All that exists against JZ are allegations and for now we proceed with that understanding... he is a very capable leader and I know without any doubt in my mind that he would step down if he thought the interests of the country would be better served by him doing so," he said.

The president was accompanied by Gauteng Premier Paul Mashatile, ANC veteran Ahmed Kathrada and Justice Minister Enver Surty.

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