South Africa is slowly starting to emerge from under a purulent pile of corruption. Corrupt practices go way back into the Apartheid era, and certainly corruption associated with the current political system was well established in the Mbeki. But it escalated under Jacob Zuma’s “leadership” to the point where one wonders if there are any governmental structures or process that are not rife with corruption. Of course government cannot be corrupt unless businesses and ordinary citizens are not also corrupt or corruptible. The Gupta’s cleptocratic business practices are well known, but as the gravy train begins to leave the track, corruption shows up in plenty of other businesses as well.
But as we cure this festering wound, we as citizens have to realise that it is not only government and big business that has to be fixed. We have to fix ourselves. We each have a role to play, no matter how small in correcting he wrongs of the present. As citizens we have to be rigorous in the small and not so small things:
- not paying bribes, and reporting every incidence of suspected bribe;
- obeying the “small laws” such as adhering to speed limits, parking signs, stopping for pedestrians, and especially not parking in disabled parking spaces;
- not buying goods that may have been stolen (if you buy stolen goods, you are no better than the thief, yet there is a huge market for stolen goods in South Africa;
- not cheating on your tax, no matter what your opinion of SARS or government;
- getting to know someone who is not like you, and learning to appreciate what they add to the world that you cannot;
- being kind and helpful to strangers of all kinds.
Each of us make choices, and a corrupt society is not just one with corrupt politicians, it is one where ordinary people like all of us make wrong choices. A non-corrupt society is one in which ALL people make the right choices. The last two points above are not related directly to corruption, but corruption is lower in societies where people appreciate and support one another, and work together to hold their governments accountable.
We will never be free of corruption unless we free ourselves of corrupt, dishonest and unlawful practices. We will not prosper until we remove corruption at all levels.
What are YOU willing to do to help make South Africa a non-corrupt and prosperous society?