Publication: Cape Argus Issued: Date: 2006-11-14 Reporter: Sipho Ngwetsheni

Corruption is Bad for Our Democracy



Cape Argus




Sipho Ngwetsheni  

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Will South Africa ever get rid of corruption?

The past week has been marked by allegations of corruption against national police commissioner Jackie Selebi, raids at Ngoako Ramatlhodi's houses and Schabir Shaik losing his appeal at the Supreme Court of Ap-peals. There are also allegations that high-profile members of the ANC and Youth League leaders received loans from the late Brett Kebble.

Maybe we need to step back and review whether our country will ever get rid of corruption. What is this corruption all about, and how is it affec-ting our democracy and economy?

Corruption is operationally defined as the misuse of entrusted power for private gain. People who hold positions of power are targeted or vulnerable to corruption. We need to put systems in place to address and root out corruption.

Let's use the example of the Zuma-Shaik relationship. Some people view it as a corrupt relationship and others see it as special friendship.

We have seen a lot of comrades becoming instant millionaires due to their political connectivity. Can this be defined as corruption or just a matter of who you know?

There is another issue that is confusing: gift-giving as a way of establishing relationships. How does one differentiate between a gift and a bribe?

Politicians are given expensive presents and these must be declared in parliament. What role do these gifts play in terms of influencing tenders and other processes, such as arms deals? There have been claims that some officials demand a portion of a tender as a condition or motivation for awarding the tender.

Accountable political leadership cannot develop in a corrupt climate. Corruption undermines people's trust in the political system, in its institutions and its leadership. It also means people lose out on opportunities because they do not have friends in high places, not because they do not have the necessary capabilities to undertake projects.

To all citizens who value and re-spect this democracy, we must ensure that our country is protected and we must root out corruption committed by our friends, families and comrades.

South Africa is said to be alive with possibilities and these must be open to all, irrespective of who you know. That's the only way we can make our democracy achieve meaningful re-sults.

Sipho Ngwetsheni,
Mogale City

With acknowledgement to Sipho Ngwetsheni and Cape Argus.