Many of SA’s unfulfilled dreams and promises are directly linked to maladministration and corruption, according to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela.
Speaking at the Diakonia Council of Churches on Friday, she said corruption was not limited to government officials and politicians; civil society was equally to blame. With this happening so frequently, many in SA were suffering as a result.
During her address, a day after the 18th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s inauguration as SA’s first democratic president, Madonsela said it was up to society to deal with corruption because it was in its interests to do so.
“We have corruption in the public sector because there is corruption in civil society. There has to be a corrupter and a corrupted. Most often, the corrupter is in the private sector. People see corruption as a political problem. But what about the person who pays the bribe? If communities have zero tolerance towards corruption… there would be no corruption in any sector.
“People must understand the link between maladministration and poverty. They must know what’s wrong and not defend the people found to have done wrong.”
Madonsela, who has been in her post for two and a half years, asked whether the government had done enough to deliver the “South African dream”, which she described as a “state that is accountable, that operates in the interest of its people and is responsible to all its people”.
She said: “When I look back at the past 18 years, it’s with a mixture of joy and sadness.
“It’s joy because, on many fronts, many people are better off than you were. More people have houses than before, have access to water more than they did before, have access to social grants. There is more even distribution of employment, especially in the public sector.
“But I can’t help feeling sad that many of our people live in poverty and are unemployed. We also know that unemployment has a black face, and the majority of those affected are young black people.
“We have to ask, have we done enough to deliver the South African dream?
“The past two and a half years have convinced me that maladministration and corruption are responsible for many unfulfilled aspects of South African society.”
During her address, Madonsela confirmed that she had been asked to investigate the e-tolling project.
“I have decided that we will proceed with this investigation, having been asked by three different parties to do so,” she said.
One of those was Nazir Alli, the former CEO of the SA Roads Agency Ltd, in one of his last moves before he resigned. The DA and the Institute for Accountability in Southern Africa were the other two.