Ubuntu principle of redress won’t cure corruption

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The suggestion by Matome Modipa that “Guilty firms should build schools to show remorse” (Business Report, February 6) raises significant issues around the application of ubuntu in relation to corruption in the business world.

It is well known that modern business is tempted into unethical and immoral practices to obtain deals. Modipa proposes a novel ubuntu application in a global economy where shenanigans (to put it mildly) are commonplace. We know this from the Armsgate scandal.

What would be appropriate is for him to spell out how his ubuntu compensation principle should be applied to corrupt politicians and public servants. Everyone knows that corruption is rampant in public life, not just in the business community. An estimated R30 billion is lost each year in South Africa through corruption, most of it through corrupted politicians and public servants or their involvement with cronies or family members. Corruption Watch has revealed that schools, of all institutions, are guilty of corrupt practices.

The practice of self-enrichment through office is rife and often treated as an entitlement. Consequently, there is no sense of guilt or shame. In a modern state it would be wrong to interpret donations to the ruling party as a form of ubuntu.

But taking Modipa’s application of the ubuntu principle in the context of the vast sums involved, it could result not only in more schools being built (without corruption, we hope), but also hospitals and old age homes.

A problem with Modipa’s interpretation is that he does not interpret corruption as wrong or immoral. Therein lies a serious ethical question.

Ron Legg

Hillcrest

Can Reserve Bank not learn from past errors?

I wish to compliment Brian Kantor’s forthright article on the dubious decision-making process of our Reserve Bank in increasing the repo rate (Business Report, February 4).

He rightly highlights the disastrous consequences when in 1998 the bank saw fit to hike the repo, forcing interest rates to 25.5 percent. I remember this well because I was forced to sell my factory when the escalated bond repayments would have led to bankruptcy. This killed our economy, which took about six years to recover.

The esteemed governor and the “experts” in the monetary policy committee believe that increasing the repo rate will solve all the problems the country is facing, by protecting the value of our currency and keeping inflation in check. This could not be further from the truth and they should use the events of 1998 as their homework before the next meeting.

It does not take a rocket scientist to realise that it’s not the consumer that creates inflation. The government, banks and all the other credit providers create inflation. One would think the Reserve Bank would force the government to stop spending money it does not have and, at the same time, force the credit providers to increase their cash deposits with the Reserve Bank, thus reducing their ability to indiscriminately lend to the gullible public.

The logic employed by the bank seems to be diametrically opposed to that of the US Federal Reserve.

To uplift the US economy, the Fed reduced interest rates to near zero and pumped trillions of dollars into the economy, where now the expected gross domestic product growth for 2014 is estimated at 3.5 percent. We, on the other hand, are battling to maintain a 2 percent growth rate. Instead of promoting growth the Reserve Bank is employing the 1998 tactics, which will again destroy this struggling economy.

It is mind boggling – surely this Reserve Bank can learn from past mistakes.

Doug Da Costa

Mount Edgecombe

Sow well to reap best education benefits

The South African education system is in dire need of fixing, as outlined in the article “SA must wake up, smell coffee and fix education problems”. (Business Watch in Business Report, February 4).

The writer quoted Kenyan businessman Chris Kirubi who, at an event on investment opportunities in Africa, said South Africa was beset by low-quality teaching.

However, the solution to the problem is more complex than what he offers: importing Kenyan teachers to help our students to catch up and become international players. Apart from teacher unions, which are usually opposed to foreign teachers taking up posts of our local teachers, we are troubled by so many other problems.

As we all are aware, the South African context is so complex and the solution, therefore, needs to be multi-faceted – all of which cannot be raised in this letter. While at the one end of the socioeconomic scale there are schools, with their teachers and students, that are performing brilliantly, sadly, at the other end we have teachers and students who are not performing at all, scraping the bottom of the barrel in fact. It is at this end that our system needs to be making the most impact.

Our education authorities need to admit that we are failing so many of our children. If we fail to identify that we have a problem, we’ll merrily continue with business as usual, plunging so many lives into the depths of despair. We need to be more serious about fixing the schools, where performance is low. No cosmetic solutions! Furthermore, we need to have higher expectations of our students and not systematically lower the bar to look good after matric results are announced.

Whereas other nations are striving for higher performance rates and encouraging their students to be better, we are teaching our students to be happy with mediocrity and our people to live off handouts.

The minds and capabilities of our children need to be developed by a sound corps of dedicated, committed, enthusiastic, well-educated teachers as well as equally committed office-bound officials and politicians.

Education needs to be highlighted by society and all concerned as a national priority so over time our future generations may reap the benefit of our current investment in our children. We will reap what we sow and woe to us if we do not sow well.

Desmond Fillis

Port Elizabeth


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