Corruption: SA at tipping point

2010-10-26 22:17

Cape Town - Corruption could become embedded in the public sector if it was not properly challenged, former parliamentarian Gavin Woods said on Tuesday.

Woods, who chaired the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, was speaking at the launch of the University of Stellenbosch's Anti-corruption Centre for Education and Research, which he is to head.

He said that where "systemic tendencies" of corruption existed, they were hugely difficult to deal with.

"In fact in a number of other developing countries the experience has been that the battle against corruption is much more difficult to win than to lose," he said.

"In South Africa we still have a chance to prevail - if we all play our part." He said there was an international consensus that out of every ten people, one would never be corrupt, one would easily be corrupt, and the rest would be swayed by pressure or temptation.

It was recognised that most perpetrators of corruption were not sophisticated criminals, but rather individuals who responded to temptation.

"If corruption is not properly challenged and it becomes increasingly systemic in nature, the psychology or mind-set which exists within the public sector work force could manifest into a wider culture of corruption which becomes embedded," Woods said.

This would particularly be true if individuals regularly got away with their transgressions.

The general public, in turn, would become aware of the moral shortcomings of their public service organisations and would become cynical about the morality of public officials and politicians.

"Such cynicism is already in evidence in South Africa," he said.

  • Steven - 2010-10-27 10:03

    Too late. The ANC and hence the government is corrupt from top to bottom. Its only concern now, is how to conceal this from the public. This is what is meant by 'national security issues'.

  • Engela J M Britz - 2010-10-27 11:33

    It is such a pity that the citizens of this country are being forced by "the law" to prevent corruption whilst the very same government (and associated institutions / organisations like Cosatu) practice corruption.
    To combat corruption one must look at yourself and one's own morality...... (Jung: If there is something wrong with the society, then there must be something wrong with the individual and if there is something wrong with the individual, then there must be something wrong with me...")
    It is such a pity that the average man's respect for government has diminished - to such an extend that it is non existing.

  • Realist - 2010-10-27 13:00

    I think we passed the "tipping point" Gavin as most people who are now benefiting from corruption tend to think they are entitled to the proceeds of it because of their previously disavantaged background!In other words, most people BELIEVE corruption is a normal process of economic transformation and advancement. Next we will be accepting house and bank robberies (with the excessive violence it goes with) as "justified" and normal as most of it is committed by 'previously disadvanted" individuals??? The government has no will nor the moral basis to deal with corruption because it is full of it!

  • Michael Bowery - 2010-10-27 18:54

    Apart from Nigeria, we have the most corrupt government in Africa and its not individuals where Gavin is being soft in his description, its government officials at the top right on down to that clerk in Home Affairs who has the power of the signature on some bottom line.
    Gavin wake up to the real African world and have the guts to say it!

  • steve - 2010-10-27 19:45

    Our famous president is so compromised when trying to deal with corruption. He was implicated and too many others around him know too much. So how can they address the problem successfully. As for our ex chief of police - what a sad role model for our citizens, our police and good old interpol - that must have been embarrassing for those who appointed this clown to the highest office and for him to abuse everything around him - what a piece of work! So sad!

  • Adipose - 2010-10-27 23:45

    In order to corrupt one person, there are always two. One offering the bribe and one recieving it.

    Thus equal effort should be expended on apprehending those both giving and recieving "incentives" to arrive at a real solution.

    Sadly its a part of African culture and not viewed as a negative trait with regards ones moral fiber. It's a tangible token of thanks and gratitude for helping.

    Gavin Woods has quite a challange on his hands and from the article seems to be a person that can put a dent in corruption however, its can only be managed, not ever completly stamped out.

  • arfie - 2010-10-28 07:35

    We see our government daily getting away with corruption across a broad scope. This is demoralising to say the least. and now the populace think: "Hey if he can get away with it why not me?" "why should I be better than he is?" thereby continuing the cycle. If you are found to be corrupt you should be out on your tail, goodbye! NO golden handshake as you have already taken more than you due. It boils down to accountability when all is said and done.

  • G Hennessy - 2010-10-28 14:52

    I was in audit for a very large coepoparion for over 20 years and travelled extensively for them into sub saharan Africa - I am now retired. Corruption starts at the top! The tone is set at the top! People with the signing power are the ones who are the biggest fraudsters usually!

  • John - 2010-10-28 14:52

    The mindset already exists - its too late...

  • Boniswa Daphne Kakana - 2010-10-29 16:06

    It will be a tough one as these people are cunning.Most of them have been institutionalised from the former TBV States where corruption was rife.High profile people cause this Cancer.

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