Serious about corruption

Rhodes>Perspective>2013 Archive

This week the Executive Director of Corruption Watch, David Lewis, paid a visit to Grahamstown in an effort to reinforce the campaign against corruption.

Naturally his visit was of great interest to the Grocott's Mail newsroom as we devote a lot of time and effort to monitoring any signs of corruption at the Makana municipality. We felt somewhat vindicated when Lewis pointed out that small Eastern Cape municipalities appear to be particularly prone to corruption, but we were taken aback when he said that one of the other serious problems in this province was linked to corruption in schools.

We have always been aware that the provincial education system is an abysmal mess, but we have always attributed the dysfunctional nature of this critical department to monumental incompetence and cadre deployment. It appears that there is a widespread problem of corruption in schools too.

Lewis says that school funds are not always used as per allocations so that amounts budgeted for classroom construction actually gets used for other non-essential purposes. Procurement policies at schools often do not exist or when they are in place they are not robustly enforced.

 Rhodes Vice-chancellor, Dr Saleem Badat, said his administration would do everything in its power to combat corruption and pointed out that a year ago he had signed a pledge on behalf of Rhodes to eliminate corruption. "We should not pretend that there is no corruption at Rhodes University," he said, "but we need to be seen to be dealing with it".

Badat said he was working with his counterparts in the other universities in the country but he was particularly focused on working with the vice-chancellors of the other three universities in the Eastern Cape.

He is keen to encourage the VCs of all universities to sign the pledge against corruption and would like to expand the initiative to include other key organisations and individuals such as the Makana Mayor. He challenged the whole town to become a corruption-free zone. We applaud Badat's stand against corruption and hope that his high-profile commitment gets translated into actions.

As his own Deputy Vice-chancellor, Dr Sizwe Mabizela, said it is not good enough to simply name and shame corrupt officials, "it is important to prosecute". We couldn't agree with Dr Mabizela more.

If corrupt officials within the university, municipality or wherever they might be, were visibility and vigorously prosecuted to the full extent of the law, there would be considerably less incentive for officials to illegally advantage themselves to the detriment of the society we live in.

Photo by David Macrgegor