Interfaith Anti Corruption Summit Report – 13 June 2010

A.      The following assertions were made (not necessarily in the order below):

  •  Corruption is evil and immoral, but not everything is corruption.
  •  Some people do bend the rules daily in small ways.
  • One of our biggest challenges is complacency. If we are not part of the solution, we are part of the problem.
  • Focus on the solution. Focus on the goal, the dream and the vision. Dwell on our highest aspirations.
  • Corruption is a minority occupation. We must speak up and speak out about it.
  • The faith community has an intrinsic faith that is able to overcome corruption.
  • The Faith Community has the power to turn things around.
  • Religious groups have the capacity to pass certain messages on to their members on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays of every week, when we meet in our millions (this could be an action).
  • Every transition creates gaps and opportunities for corruption.
  • There was gross corruption in the homeland systems. The Apartheid regime spent R350 billion on arms. 
  • Today we speak about rhino poaching, but we must not forget the poaching of elephants and the trade in tusks that were committed during the apartheid era.
  • Corporations trying to circumvent sanctions had to pay bribes. There is a report that deals with money, up to R40 billion, that is in offshore accounts.
  • There are bank “loans” that are still in the process of being investigated.
  • Our TRC did not, but more recent TRC’s are dealing with economic crimes as well.
  • We must remember that as corruption is exposed, criminal networks will fight back.
  • We need justice in ALL instances and not just in some.
  • We can learn from the Jewish example after the second world war, especially how those responsible had to pay for restoration.
  • Democratic governance is key to fighting corruption.
  • Levels of economic growth are slowed down by corruption. It has been asserted that economic growth reduces poverty, but if economic growth is slowed down, poverty reduction is also slowed down.
  • Corruption impacts most negatively on women.
  • Empowerment of women directly reduces corruption.
  • We must also expose corruption within civil society.
  • There is huge corruption in the provision of basic items, and the price-fixing of bread is one issue (my note: even after the culprits were fined, they passed the fine on to the consumer by raising the price of bread).
  • Changes that have been made to the Secrecy Bill is as a result of our collective pressure and we must keep it up. 
  • South African townships can be described as hell. But there seems to be indifference to what happens in the townships. Recently someone called Rice Sithole was stoned to death. Criminals are also being necklaced as people are losing faith in the system.
  •  From our research, we have found that the perception of corruption is often bigger than people’s experiences.
  • It also could become a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy.
  • Most people, when they need help, look at informal networks of support rather than at the formal networks.
  • We need to strengthen our national social fabric.
  • There is a big challenge with money being allocated to budgets that can address specific challenges, but it is never used.
  • There is a failure of local government to provide adequate sanitation.
  • Something like refuse removal in townships are outsourced via a SDA, but this does not happen in the suburbs….Council collects refuse in the suburbs. We eventually obtained the information about the SDA’s and discovered that (a) some companies were not delivering according to the SDA that they have signed and (b) there is failure on the part of the City to monitor whether these SDA’s are being honoured. 
  • There are certain things that we did in the liberation struggle that was unacceptable eg. necklacing.
  • There were secret meetings and compromises made during the negotiations period, and these now re-appear in depraved form.
  • There is corruption in powerful global economic forces.
  • We should celebrate the small victories against corruption
  • We should take our place alongside other civil society actors.
  • Neville Alexander said that we need to deal with the challenge of illiteracy. If people are illiterate, how can they even get to understand the constitution?
  • We need both institutional reform and a change of attitudes.
  • Thou shalt not steal (Exodus 20).
  • We need to take personal responsibility and not just be victims.
  • We have lost our moral focus.
  • We need courage.
  • We must remember that God speaks. The universe is not silent. God’s first question in the garden was to humankind: “Where are you?”
  • The prophets called on the people to take responsibility.
  • We need good education…the invention of writing was a quantum leap.
  • We have been found wanting.
  • Evil flourish where good people do nothing.
  • The TRC did not deal with economic crimes, because of vested interests.
  • Corruption is global, present at all levels of society, and can be endemic.
  • Corruption robs people of opportunities, leads to violence and impacts on reconciliation and healing
  • We must remember that corruption begets corruption.
  • Dr Ramphele was quoted as saying that our democracy has been built on sinking sand. It could be a fraudulent and corrupt project.
  • Two opposite assertions were made: (a) We must not politicize corruption and (b) Corruption is political.
  • The black elite has conspired with each other and with big business that results in hellish conditions in our black townships.
  • The fingers are also pointed at ourselves.
  • Separate development in the forms we have it is also corruption.
  • We need the restoration of our spaces in order to become fully human. When you buy a weapon, that is corrupt.
  • Even without education, people know intuitively what is corrupt.
  • When the law is a thief, it becomes a virtue to break the law.
  • According to the Hebrew scriptures, “The Holy Trinity is the widow, the orphan and the foreigner”.
  • Corruption is: “Acquiring that which is not yours”.
  • We are selective in what we call “corruption”.
  • Everything we have belongs to God. In the Hebrew scriptures a Jubilee was called for every 50 years to bring everything back into balance again.
  • “My faith helps people to worship wealth…just claim it in Jesus’ name”.
  • We need a common public theology
  • The Bill of Rights has been interpreted in terms of responsibilities, but not enough people know about this (this could become an action). Someone else asserted that our faith and values are the benchmarks, not the Freedom Charter and the Constitution.
  • We are now in a second liberation struggle, and this struggle is for the soul of the nation. Moral regeneration is not the job of state and government, but our (faith community’s) job.
  • The boundaries between right and wrong has disappeared in this country.
  • We need a common anthropology. How do we think about human beings? Are they part of the imago Dei, the image of God?
  • The interfaith movement has collapsed and we need to make it our mission to rebuild it. 

B.      The following key questions were raised:

  •  What is the root cause of corruption?
  • How far do we want to take this conversation?
  • Who do we have in mind? We need to move out of our safe conversations.
  • Who are the ones who are most wary of corruption?
  • Can we continue in the kind ofSouth Africathat we have?
  • How do we think about human beings? Are they part of the imago Dei, the image of God? (we need a common anthropology)
  • Is it not strange to us that (a) we are lauded as having the most progressive constitution in the world but (b) we have the highest level of income inequality in the world?
  • Are the rules which we have agreed on as a society inherently corrupt, or are they just unevenly implemented?
  • What can we do in the short term, medium term and long term?

 The following definitional questions were raised:

  •  Who decides what corruption is?
  • Who is the criminal? Who is corrupt?
  • Is corruption not a “natural” byproduct of our society?
  • Is exclusion of people from the economy not also corruption?

  C.      The following suggestions for further action were made (in no particular order):

 If we are not part of the solution, we are part of the problem.

1.  Let us work together. Let us rebuild the National Religious leaders forum or something similar to it.

2. Let us then, having strengthened our own structure, work with civil society

3. Let us take back the educational system

4. Let us focus on the question of illiteracy as this will help people to understand the basics of the constitution etc

5. Let us help those who were caught up in corruption to make a new start.

6. Let us speak up and speak out – Silence is not an option

7. Let us not compromise ourselves

8. Let us also look at the negative actions of our own communities

9. Let us support the many who are honest

10. Let us hold up the vision of the good

11. Let us use the faith that in intrinsic to most of us to overcome corruption

12. Let us strengthen the National Anti-Corruption forum in the provinces

13. Let us continue to mobilize against the Protection of State of Information Bill until it is re-written to the point that we believe it would not be harmful to our democratic life together.

14. Let us think of new avenues to report corruption eg. use our church buildings as places where people can feel safe to report corruption

15. Let us continue to think about a restitution process fromSouth Africa. We could learn from the Jewish people after the Second World War. Should we call for a TRC on “economic crimes”?

16. We should consider fasting outside some of the major decisionmakers’ office to ensure that our pleas are heard.

17. On June 20 at 18h30 there will be a demonstration at theCentralMethodistChurchon the issue of the Secrecy Bill.

 The following suggestions for further reading were made:

1. Njabulo Ndebele’s “A meditation on corruption”

2. Paul Holden: The Arms deal in your pocket

3. Ruben Richards: Bullets or ballots?

 Best practice from others countries:

 In Singaporethe Public Protector’s mandate is also to deal with private sector corruption, but this is not the case inSouth Africa.

 Quote of the day comes from Angy (SJC): “Corruption is like being in a cell – we cannot go anywhere – there is no way out” .

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by siya Gidi on June 27, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    Hi Shoany can this be posted into our website plz.

    Like

    Reply

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