Tjatjarag: Corruption busting gets some real teeth

2013-06-17 10:00

Justice Minister Jeff Radebe’s hit list of corruptees and their corruptors is a must-read. It outlines, in forensic detail, the theft of almost R1?billion from various state entities.

The biggest corruption took place in the Mangaung municipality tender system, where graft busters have found manipulation valued at R747?million.

The second-highest, and most worrying, amount was R77?million defrauded from the SA Revenue Service.

As a citizen, the five-page document that Radebe put out gave me great hope that the impunity with which people steal public money is being stopped.

In a warning against corruption two weeks ago, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said the corrupt syndicates and individuals in the state behaved like mice in a cheese factory.

Radebe’s document suggested that we also have some master mice trappers.

The fight against corruption and cronyism is being fronted by a new set of political leaders.

Mantashe led the assault against Guptagate, the short title for the landing of the Indian family’s plane at Waterkloof Air Force Base, which morphed into a much wider attack on cronyism and name-dropping in the state.

And Radebe was government’s front man for that too.

Public Service Minister Lindiwe Sisulu completes the triangle of graft busters who are showing a steely resolve to deal with endemic corruption. It is heartening.

»?Speaking of corruption, the Sunday Times, in a column two weeks ago, alleged City Press sold advertising space to the communications department in return for a “favourable” front-page story. This is tantamount to an allegation of corruption.

Our story simply revealed soccer dynamo Jomo Sono as the mystery man the communications minister alleged was behind the series of stories into her shenanigans the Sunday Times has published.

It is a nonsense allegation from the Sunday Times against City Press and diminishes that paper’s role as the industry leader.

We take our independence very seriously and work hard to protect the credibility of our beloved 31-year-old title.

When I asked our Sunday peer for evidence, I was told there was none, but that the question had been raised for me to answer.

My request to speak to the paper’s editor to discuss the allegation was turned down.

It is silly trickery, defamatory too, and an abuse of power by the industry leader.

The paper has refused to publish an apology or to give us a right to reply. A letter to the editor, which was proffered, is not sufficient to correct the damage to our credibility.

We could take this further – to the press ombud or even to court – but it will drag out into a childish and expensive power play, which will ensnare too much time for too little public interest.

I’ve got other things to do, like cover next year’s election and work out better ways to report on an exciting world.

My prerogative is to ensure you, our readers, know that our independence and credibility are intact.

Our service is only to the reading public and advertising is sold quite separately.

I invite any of you to come in and see our weekly process if you are concerned.

To practice our independence, we also do not assist public or political inquiries with information, but often do put entire documents into the public domain via our website.

We will continue to do this and possibly build a document vault on our site for those who want a deeper read into our investigative work or to track our reporting process.

»?Media research institute Media Tenor this week said that the Sunday Times has been replaced by City Press as the most quoted traditional medium in South Africa, which has now become the country’s most influential medium.

Our sister paper Beeld is progressively becoming a thought leader – it ranked third.

What lovely news. We hope to build on our growing reputation.

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