The South African Council of Churches (SACC), in conjunction with a number of high-profile civil society organisations, has issued a joint statement condemning the “moral depravity of some in positions of authority and in the private sector” who are undermining the notion of nationhood and the underlying value of public service.

The organisations which joined with the SACC on Friday to issue the hard-hitting statement are the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the Foundation for Human Rights, and the Council for the Advancement of South African Constitution (CASAC).

All South Africans must act against corruption

Their joint statement calls on “all who live in South Africa to act against corruption”.

“After years of state capture and unethical governance, and more recently, large-scale looting of COVID-19 emergency funding, that time is upon us.

“We are compelled to assert: This is not how we shall be known as a nation. We refuse to allow corrupt networks in different provinces to go about their criminal activity, trampling on the rights of honest and law-abiding people!” the organisations say.

Organisations promise ‘societal response’ to scourge

In the next week, the SACC and its partner organisations say that they will work with a number of other formations, academics and legal experts to mobilise a comprehensive societal response against corruption.  

This includes the reopening of the ‘Unburdening Panel’ for whistleblowers and public servants to report corruption, as well as a national call for the public to demonstrate their outrage at not only the looting, but the lack of consequences for it.

Statement calls on public to make pledge against corruption

In a build up to the programme of actions, the organisations are calling on the public to make the following pledge:

“On building an ethical state:

Refuse to allow Constitutional rights to be eroded by a network of thieves and thugs. Corrupt politicians, business people, officials and professionals must not ‘get away with murder’. By preventing looting during a pandemic, we can indeed be the difference between life and death;

Name and shame the corrupt, and support and strengthen honest public servants and whistleblowers; and,

Call for government to ensure that all public representatives and political party executive committee members, and their immediate families, as well as all civil servants not be allowed to conduct business with the state.

On transparency:

Demand that budgets for all COVID-19 related contracts at all levels of government are made public, along with the unit prices paid per item/ for services; and,

Demand that government makes public its spending of the R500 billion stimulus package, and call on the Solidarity Fund to do likewise. Practical measures should be put in place to ensure all further expenditure of these funds, as well as the IMF loan, is made public in real-time.

On accountability:

Demand that government recoups all funds lost through irregular and corrupt COVID-19 contracts; and,

Use whatever means of mobilisation possible under COVID-19 restrictions to make it known to government that we will not accept its ‘paper commitments’ about tackling corruption. Ensure that those implicated in corrupt activities are investigated and prosecuted. We want to see the corrupt in jail!

State must have known of ‘predators’ lying in wait

The statement adds that “state cannot tell us that they did not know that the ‘predators’ were waiting to ‘eat’ early on in the pandemic. The SACC warned about this in April and called for specific COVID-19 corruption busting measures”.

It concludes: “Let us all close ranks and unmask those from within the public and private sector who appear to want to serve society, but have nothing but their own interests at heart; let there be consequences for the corrupt; and let us recover what rightfully belongs to the people.”

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Presh JM Reporter

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