Corruption: government alone is not the culprit

2013-04-04 11:59

The third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson once said “Experience has shown that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.” Without any reasonable doubt, this statement can best describe our common perceptions of how we frequently view our bureaucrats.

In an idealistic economy, political heads should provide a solid bridge between the government and its populace, particularly in a democratic dispensation. Unfortunately the constant cases of corruption are gradually destroying these bridges that we so highly depend on as we walk the path of economic growth and development. Corruption has become an epidemic in our country both in the public and private sectors.

As things stand, corruption is one of the critical threats to South Africa’s growth trajectory and an even greater hazard to the fight against poverty. It undermines trust between the state and citizens; it derails service delivery, reduces investor confidence and consequently foreign direct investment, and negatively impacts numerous other economic benefits essential for the population welfare.

More often than not, there are two or more parties to a corrupt activity. I limit my argument to just the private sector and government.

The media always targets people in government (i.e. political principals and general public servants) and seldom target the private sector businesses. In essence, we are often given one side of the story. Focus tends to be only on the government, but government doesn’t contract with the government to deliver services! It contracts with the private sector and the private sector should equally be held accountable. Overpricing of services to be delivered is not done by government; it is done by people who sell their services to the government.

It generally appears as though government obliges itself to the fight against corruption largely in words and to a very limited extent in deed while the private sector is often quick to act as the saint. Fair enough, one takes note of the efforts made such as the Public Protector, National Prosecuting Authority, Hawks, SARS and the National Anti-corruption Forum who have taken the fight against corruption head on. One can’t just wave a magic stick and solve this calamity that has plagued our system because there are too many points of resistance in the system.

Both the private sector and government must come to the party to stop this moral impurity that steals away from our people. To oppose corruption in government is the highest obligation of patriotism. Corruption must be exposed from both sides!

Follow Thabiso on Twitter @ThabisoMolewa

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