AS soon as we hear the word “corruption”, we automatically think of dodgy politicians in Armani suits, meeting in exclusive bars and exchanging brown envelopes filled with cash. Most South Africans have an opinion on corruption and probably a personal experience of how they have been affected by corruption.[pullquote]Whether it’s accepting more change than you should, allowing your friend to copy your assignment or paying a bribe to pass your driving licence, most of us have done it.[/pullquote]
Everyday corruption in South Africa
When one reads through any of our nation’s major newspapers we are bombarded with endless stories of corruption. Negligent spending of state funds by civil servants and government officials, lavish family trips, high performance sport cars and the list goes on, seemingly all coming from an endless supply of cash.
Although these are “typical” examples of corruption, they are not the only form of corruption. Citizens perform corrupt acts on a daily basis without the fear of being caught by the media or being placed under investigation.
When the South African Social Security Agency decided to improve the efficiency and security of its system to pay social grants there had been incidents of citizens defrauding the state. There were cases of women registering the same child in more than one province for a social grant. Employed women receiving social grants and people who were not of pensionable age falsified their identity document to receive their pensions early.
Though these are extreme cases, many of us have committed a corrupt act. Whether it’s accepting more change than you should, allowing your friend to copy your assignment or paying a bribe to pass your driving licence, most of us have done it.
What’s wrong, what’s right?
Most people are quick to point a finger at corrupt government officials for all their wrongdoings and rightfully so. All taxpayers have a right to complain about wasteful spending involving the money they entrust to the government and all citizens have a right to expect delivery on political promises of services, infrastructure and welfare benefits.
We cannot complain about crime if we perpertuate that culture. We cannot pay a bribe and complain about corruption, or accept a job from an uncle if you did not follow the appropriate recruitment process. We need learn to be accountable for our actions now and have a high moral standard.[pullquote align=”right”]Employed women receiving social grants and people who were not of pensionable age falsified their identity document to receive their pensions early.[/pullquote]
Time for reflection
We need to take note of our own corruption, the little corrupt things we do that will become big problems. It is said absolute power corrupts absolutely. Someday we will be in leadership positions that require ethical conduct. It’s important to have our moral compass right.