It’s an anti-graft tsunami
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Pretoria - A new anti-corruption movement has been born out of Wednesday’s countrywide marches against graft, with organisers promising more events and initiatives to rid the country of this rot.
Organisers of the Unite Against Corruption initiative said in Pretoria that the next task was to educate the public about the impact of corruption on the economy and the state in general.
The marchers gave the government two months to get back to them on myriad demands handed over to Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe at the Union Buildings.
Thousands of people descended on the Union Buildings and Parliament in the hope of forcing the government into action.
While the marches were generally apolitical and mainly driven by civil-society organisations, some opposition politicians made an appearance to try to gain traction out of their participation.
EFF leader Julius Malema, who himself stands accused of various corrupt practices, chanted “the government of thieves must fall” ahead of his address to the marchers, who cheered “Juju, Juju”.
“This building here is harbouring the number 1 thief of South Africa. The most corrupt individual in South Africa is found here in the Union Buildings…
“You will see the Union Buildings from television, because these masses are going to march you out of this building,” he told around 3 000 marchers, who greeted his speech with rousing applause.
Marchers warned that if those in power ignored their demands, “a small wave would become a tsunami” as they would mobilise even more members to join them outside Parliament during the State of the Nation address in February.
Steve Faulkner from the United Front said their demands should not be filed away and forgotten as they were drafted by some of the “sharpest minds” in the country and offered tangible solutions to corruption, which was described as a cancer that was eating away at society.
Organisers said the action was an expression of their anger at the existence of corruption in society.
While they’ve estimated that the country lost R700 billion to corruption over the past 20 years, this has been disputed by fact-checking service Africa Check.
Members of the public said they were tired of crime in their communities where tenders were awarded to a few individuals who had political connections. Others belonging to the Treatment Action Campaign said if there were less corruption, there would be better health services.
Radebe, who accepted a memorandum, said the protests were in line with interventions contained in the National Development Plan, which encouraged an active citizenry.
But much of his speech was drowned out by the protesters, who booed and hissed when he stepped onto the stage.
“The president has signed 52 proclamations allowing the Special Investigating Unit to investigate both the public and private sector,” he said.
Organisers plan to hold another march on October 14, which they say will be bigger as workers will be allowed to attend. By that date, workers will be procedurally allowed to participate in the protest marches.
Long list of demands
The Unite Against Corruption coalition’s demands include:
* The South African Revenue Service, the South African Reserve Bank and Financial Intelligence Centre must probe illicit financial flows and transfer pricing, and take strong steps to deal with these crimes.
* A multidisciplinary team made up of the National Prosecuting Authority, Priority Crimes Litigations Unit, SAPS, Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, and the offices of the Public Protector and Auditor-General must investigate economic crimes committed under “late apartheid” (1980 to 1994), in particular in relation to busting sanctions.
* The National Treasury must compile a report on all organs of state and state-owned entities that don’t comply with the law to ensure such entities procure local goods and services, and it must outline steps to ensure compliance.
* Political party funding must be made transparent and public.
* Lifestyle audits of senior public servants should be conducted annually by the Auditor-General or the Public Service Commission.
* While on duty, all public servants should wear name tags.
* Public servants and elected representatives must be prohibited from doing business with the state.
* Individuals dismissed for corrupt or unethical conduct in the private sector must be blacklisted from employment in the public sector.
* Corruption and tender fraud must be fast-tracked through the commercial courts and convictions with jail terms secured.
* Any company bidding for public sector contracts must be required to reveal its true owners, and such information must be published in a publicly available register.
* The Treasury must establish a panel of firms specialising in forensic investigations to which |all complaints of tender corruption can be submitted. Where applicable, the Treasury must rotate cases among forensic firms, taking into account potential conflicts of interest.
* A collective body on which |civil society is represented must appoint – after public interviews – the police commissioner and deputy commissioners, and the national director of prosecutions and the deputies.
* Implement the findings of the Public Protector and increase the office’s budget.
* Strengthen the offices of the Public Protector and Auditor-General and reject any merger of the Office of the Public Protector and the South African Human Rights Commission.