Political analyst and author Dale McKinley says the root of corruption in South Africa dates back to pre-democracy where capitalists offered government political power in exchange for total control over the economy.
He was commenting during the SABC’s television programme Big Debate on corruption in the public and private sectors.
McKinley says government has responded by protecting some corrupt private enterprises which has resulted in a full-blown corrupt system.
“It started pre-94, let’s be honest, the agreement was you get political power you leave the economy alone. And when you’ve left the economy alone, you leave all the corrupt things intact. We forget that from apartheid to post-apartheid the synergies and continuities are there. We have a system that is fundamentally compromised. It protects private capital and it protects those in the government that work with private capital to corrupt our system. Impunity equals power.”
The Chairperson of Rothschild and Co.’s South African unit, Martin Kingston, says the only way to get rid of corruption in the country is through capable and competent governance.
Kingston says the public sector is also responsible for corruption in the country. He says some major private institutions generally conceal criminal activity within the organisation from the public.
“What we’ve seen certainly, progressively over the last 10 years, has been a fundamental erosion of capabilities and capacity; particularly, but not only in the public sector. We think that the private sector has its role to play, but the truth of the matter is that these issues go undetected and it us easy, I have to say particularly for sophisticated institutions to hide criminal activity from the public eye.”
Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa), Themba Godi, says one of the reasons why corruption is thriving in the country is because powerful people never get prosecuted for their crimes.
Godi says those who have been implicated in corruption usually get away with very light punishment.
“The political head that is the executive as well as the heads of departments who are supposed to act, just don’t act. The police, the hawks who are supposed to investigate, just don’t. We called the anti-corruption task team before Scopa to say tell us what are you doing. And what we found was that the corruption by rich people or people who stole a lot of money like say R100 million would only get a 5 year suspended sentence.”
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