Bribery, fraud, nepotism and systemic corruption is a societal cancer that ignites passion and anger, causing deep harm to many.
Just open a newspaper or listen to the radio and you will read and hear stories of various corruption scandals here in our province, country and across the world.
That is why my colleagues and I welcome the appointment of a high-level task team from the Hawks to investigate allegations of corruption across Eastern Cape.
Corruption works in the dark to destroy our lives. When corruption and bribery succeed, the goal of fairness and equality fails. Our resources are devoured. Entire communities can be left without infrastructure.
And when corruption is rampant, countries, provinces and communities face blemished reputations and suffer poor inward investment.
But what is corruption and its brothers and sisters – nepotism, bribery and fraud? According to Transparency International, “Corruption is practically the abuse of entrusted power for private gain.”
TI defines two basic forms of corruption. First, grand corruption which embodies greed and lust for power by those who already possess considerable wealth and power, and thus, large sums of money are typically involved.
Second, petty corruption which arises largely among middle ranking government and business officials.
The World Banks elaborates: “Public office is abused for private gain when an official accepts, solicits, or extorts a bribe. It is also abused when private agents actively offer bribes to circumvent public policies and processes for competitive advantage and profit. Public office can also be abused for private benefit even if no bribery occurs, through patronage and nepotism, the theft of state assets, or the diversion of state revenues.”
As in the examples given at the beginning of this column, corruption emerges when an organisation or a public official has monopoly power over goods or service and has the discretionary power to decide who will receive the service or goods.
In general, corruption is divided into two categories: Corruption of those in power, and corruption among the people and the lower-income segments.
Corruption among those in power is linked to officials at the top of the social and political hierarchy, whether in the executive authority, the legislative authority or the security apparatus.
To fight corruption we need proper weapons – better control systems and more transparent reporting. So what are our weapons here in the Eastern Cape?
I believe that when government decisions are transparent and the responsibility of individual public servants in the decision-making processes is clearly known, deterrence against illegal private benefit in public work is greatly enhanced.
To intensify the fight against corruption and fraud and to ensure the speedy finalisation of corruption cases, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Special Investigating Unit to investigate a number of outstanding corruption and fraud cases in the public service.
Also, through our provincial anti-corruption action plan, we have developed and are implementing the following anti-corruption instruments: a policy to prohibit trade between the government and public servants; a provincial code of ethics; a provincial whistle-blowing policy; a provincial fraud prevention plan; and a security management policy.
At least 562 cases of alleged fraud and corruption were reported and resolved over the past 18 months. Currently 157 cases of alleged fraud and corruption are being investigated.
Also, awareness sessions on anti-corruption, ethics and security management policing, and accountability engagement have been conducted in different municipalities. Ethics management training has also been conducted for officials at different levels, including bid-committee members in most departments.
The Eastern Cape government is committed to taking all possible steps to curb corruption and deliver good governance.
As technologist and writer, Ramez Naam said: “We’ve seen over time that countries that have the best economic growth are those that have good governance, and good governance comes from freedom of communication. It comes from ending corruption. It comes from a populace that can go online and say, ‘This politician is corrupt, this administrator, or this public official is corrupt’.”
As a nation and province, we need to establish transparent standards, create preventive and comprehensive measures and promote the values of integrity
I urge residents of the Eastern Cape to blow the whistle on corruption. Report it by calling 0800701701 and/or writing to EasternCape@ipid.gov.za.
Phumulo Masualle is premier of the Eastern Cape. His Twitter handle is @EC_premier