VC’s Opening Comments at the Corruption Watch

24 May 2012 -24 May 2012 @ 08:00 - 08:01


May 24, 2012
08:00 AM - 08:01 AM
Event Type:


Rhodes University
+27 46 603 8111

Our guest speaker and Executive Director of Corruption Watch Dr Dave Lewis, Ms. Ella Scheepers of Corruption Watch (and a Rhodes graduate), the Chairperson of Council, Judge Jones, Deputy Vice-Chancellors, Deans, Heads of Departments, academic and administrative colleagues, students, molweni, good evening and welcome to the Rhodes University Corruption Watch Public Lecture and Pledge Signing Ceremony.

Given its nature, it is not very often that a University takes a public stand as a body collective on an issue; to do so, not as the Vice-Chancellor, but as an institution is a lengthy process, which involves many committees, including the Senate and Council of the University.

This evening Rhodes University is extremely proud to be the first university in South Africa to publicly express, as an institution, its support for addressing the pervasive and unacceptable corruption in our country, and specifically its support for Corruption Watch.

Corruption, whether involving the receipt of small bribes by the traffic cops or cops, or bribes and services by university administrators and academics; or big bribes, freebies and kickbacks by procurement and tender officials, public servants and politicians; or the handing out of bribes, kickbacks and the like by businesses and citizens, or fraud and the looting of the public coffers, is highly corrosive of the moral foundations of our society, of effective administration, and ultimately of development and democracy in South Africa.
Corruption Watch is an independent civil society body recently established by the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) to lead the fight against corruption.

It seeks to collect, analyse and share information on corruption in South Africa, and to also build a more engaged and active civil society in South Africa. It has a hotline and website which invites the public to report corruption and also pledge to reject corruption.

The Corruption Watch Board comprises eminent South Africans such as Archbishop Ndungane, Kate O’Regan, Zwelinzima Vavi, Bobby Godsell Mary Metcalfe, Mavuso Msimang, Dave Lewis and Vuyiseka Dubula as Chairperson.

This evening following the address of Dr Lewis, the Chairperson of the Rhodes University Council, the Vice-Chancellor, who is also chairperson of the University Senate, the Deputy Vice-Chancellors, the Registrars, the Chair of the Deans Forum, the leaders of the trade unions NEHAWU and NTEU, the President of SRC, and others will sign the Corruption Watch pledge against corruption.
There will also be an opportunity for University Faculty and Department representatives, local education and public institutions, and student leaders (House Committee officials, sub-wardens, and Clubs and Societies’ members) to sign the Pledge.
The general Rhodes community and visitors to the University will be invited to sign a Corruption Watch Pledge book that will be available for this purpose.

By signing the Corruption Watch pledge, as individuals and as a University, we commit ourselves to the fight against corruption generally - in our country, province, district and municipality, in the public and private sectors and civil society - and specifically at Rhodes.

Its seems to me that there could also be exciting possibilities for research and scholarship on corruption and the more general culture of impunity and the dearth of responsible, accountable and ethical leadership that bedevils our country.

Already, we have at Rhodes the Public Service Accountability Monitor, which ‘has been engaged in social accountability monitoring since 1999 and seeks to hold government officials accountable for the delivery of services and the performance of their duties’ as part of ‘the progressive realisation of constitutional rights.’

And soon we will publicly launch the Allan Gray Centre for Leadership Ethics to undertake research, education and development around ethical and responsible leadership.
It is an honour to welcome this evening to Rhodes University the Executive Director of Corruption Watch, Dr Dave Lewis and his colleagues.

In 2010, the University of Cape Town awarded Dave Lewis an honorary doctorate in economic sciences.

His citation read and I quote:

David Lewis is a man of courage. He had the courage to stand up to the apartheid regime. He had the courage to be an outspoken academic. And he has the courage to take on the might of powerful business collusions and cartels.

The citation added that:

it’s not only courage that David Lewis possesses in buckets but also professionalism and integrity as well as, according to Business Day, “acumen, skill and gritty intelligence”. In all his activities, he has shown a remarkable ability to strategise, to innovate and to lead.

Dr Lewis read for economics at the universities of the Witwatersrand and Cape Town.

Between 1975 and 1990 he worked in the non-racial and democratic trade union movement, serving as the General Secretary of the General Workers Union and national organiser of the Transport and General Workers Union.

From 1990 to 1999, Dave directed the Development Policy Research Unit at UCT, ‘his dedication to the labour cause continu(ing) in the form of teaching and writing about unemployment, about trade union history and about industrial relations. He co-authored a book that analysed the smouldering ruins of [the South African] economy and the miserable conditions of [the workforce].’

Between 1994 and 1996 he was special adviser to the Minister of Labour, Tito Mboweni, and co-chaired the Presidential Commission on Labour Market Policy.

He was a member of the task team that advised the Minister of Trade and Industry on the development of competition policy and was instrumental in the drafting and implementation of the Competition Act, which has sought to regulate competition in South Africa.

Dr Lewis served on the Competition Board from January 1998 and chaired the Board from January to August 1999.

With the promulgation of the Competition Act in September 1999, he was appointed chairperson of the Competition Tribunal. He is a founder member of the International Competition Network, a member of its Steering Group from 2001 until 2009 and chairperson of the Steering Group in 2008-9.

It has been suggested that

arguably, David Lewis’ most significant contribution to date has been as chair of the Competition Tribunal over the last ten years.
This is a body that might have ended up as a toothless beast, snuggled comfortably in the pockets of business and fixing deals and plea bargains behind the scenes. Instead, the Competition Tribunal has become an institution that is both high functioning and effective. It is holding South African corporations to account for the way that they do business. Since our economy is characterised by high levels of corruption, collusion and anti-trust behaviour, this is no trivial task.

Dave has served on the board of the National Research Foundation and on the board of directors of the Industrial Development Corporation.  He was deputy chairman of the IDC board from 2002 to 2008 and chairperson of its Human Resources Committee.

In 2008 he was appointed to the board of trustees of the International Marketing Council of South Africa and to the board of directors of the Johannesburg Development Agency.

In 2010 he joined the board of directors of South African Airways, where he serves on the audit and remuneration committees. He was also appointed an extraordinary professor at the Gordon Institute of Business Science.

It is my great pleasure to invite Dave Lewis to address us.

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