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Civil society must fight corruption: Madonsela

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More action was needed from civil society to fight corruption, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s office said on Monday.

Speaking during the international civil society week conference in Johannesburg on Sunday, Madonsela asked civil society to go beyond just complaining about was wrong, acting spokesman Oupa Segalwe said in a statement.

Civil society should offer solutions to help fight corruption in the world, with such action needing to be co-ordinated.

“The event was organised by the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa and the Open Society Foundations under the theme Combating Corruption in Africa,” said Segalwe.

“Such action, the public protector said, would help the continent fight corruption which risked derailing the noble visions such as the National Development Plan and the African Union’s Vision 2063.”

Madonsela invited civil society to develop an instrument that looked beyond people just declaring conflict of interest.

“Also, making sure that decision-making in government was not influenced by conflict of interest,” she said.

While commending existing civil society organisations such as Corruption Watch, Madonsela said more needed to be done as corruption kept getting sophisticated and failure to adapt would see it winning the battle.

She warned that modern corruption went beyond bribes and included failure to monitor conflict of interest.

It was rare for people to give themselves or close relatives tenders, but they opted for companies which could give them something in return.

To curb this scourge there was a need for a common definition of corruption and what behaviour went with being anti-corruption.

“If we had a common understanding of what behaviour goes with being anti-corrupt, there should not be too much debate because we know what is good and bad,” she said.

There was an urgent need to reconcile behaviour with, among others, the African Union instruments on shared values, and the South African constitution and its laws.

Asked what danger corruption posed to Africa, Madonsela said corruption took away rational decision-making and the right to equality.

Where playing fields were not level, due to irrational decision-making influenced by corrupt activities, communities were likely to suffer poor service delivery which often led to service delivery protests.

This was often at the centre of many conflicts which resulted in loss of innocent lives.

“If there is water, electricity, it is unlikely that people will follow whoever says let’s go to the streets, but if there isn’t people are likely to take to the streets,” she said.

The public protector called on decision-makers to familiarise themselves with instruments aimed at fighting corruption while promoting good governance. SAPA

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