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Rhodes to take anti-corruption fight to rest of SA

Date Released: Fri, 17 May 2013 10:45 +0200

RHODES University vice-chancellor Dr Saleem Badat has vowed to step up his fight against corruption by persuading other South African universities to sign a pledge to fight the scourge themselves.

A year after he mobilised support for the university to become the first tertiary education institution in South Africa to sign the Corruption Watch pledge, Badat said he was ready to broaden the campaign into Grahamstown and the rest of the country.

Pulling no punches, the vice-chancellor told a handful of academics, students and business leaders earlier this week that the university planned to tap into the wealth of experts at Rhodes University by setting up multi-departmental research programmes to supplement ongoing work by former trade union leader and academic Dr David Lewis, who heads Corruption Watch.

According to Badat, plans were in the pipeline in the months to come for Corruption Watch to address the vicechancellors of South Africa’s 22 other universities.

He said he hoped to persuade the Grahamstown-based Makana Municipality, locals schools and businesses to sign the pledge too.

“As a university we need to provide leadership more widely in the fight against corruption; this entails the duty of persuading other institutions in our town – the municipality, business, schools and the like – to also sign the Corruption Watch pledge and take substantive action against corruption.”

Although the university made history when it signed the pledge to fight corruption, it did not mean the institution was now immune to the problem itself.

Three cases of corruption were presently under investigation and Badat suggested the perpetrators be named and shamed if they were found guilty of the offences.

He said he was happy for the university to be transparent on the issue of corruption and suggested the Makana Municipality do the same.

The public was also called on to take photos of teachers who shirked their duties and did not work a 40-hour week by regularly arriving late at school.

Persuading the various university committees, trade unions, staff and students to sign the Corruption Watch pledge involved a lengthy process of talks and discussions before everyone bought into the plan.

“Signing the Corruption Watch pledge is a symbolic act on the part of the university to commit ourselves to the fight against corruption at Rhodes.

“But there also have to be substantive actions.”

These included ensuring Rhodes had the necessary values, systems, policies and procedures to put “a culture” in place to prevent corruption by addressing the problem robustly and publicly, researching the problem, and providing wider leadership to fight corruption in the town and province.

“Those who are entrusted with leadership of institutions must take great care about whom they associate with and relate to, how they relate to other people and institutions, and how they conduct themselves with regard to gifts and favours that people and institutions may want to confer on them,” he warned.

“We have painfully witnessed recently that this can corrode the integrity of public institutions and the moral fabric of society.”

By DAVID MACGREGOR

Source: Daily Dispatch

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