Rhodes first to sign pledgeWednesday, 30/05/2012 - 12:40
By Adrienne Carlisle
Rhodes University this week became the first institution in the country to sign civil society organisation Corruption Watch's pledge against corruption.
In a bold first, a united university - including its student leaders, deans, heads of departments, union leaders, council and members of management - signed a pledge to be responsible and honest citizens, to treat public resources respectfully and to act with integrity.
Corruption Watch (CW) executive director Dr David Lewis said Rhodes was not only the first tertiary institution, but the first institution - business or educational - countrywide that had signed the pledge.
The youth in particular were important partners in the social movement against corruption as they were the most affected by it, he added.
"We need to think deeper about the ethos passed on to the next generation of public and private sector leaders. It is important to stop the corrosion spreading to the youth."
In a public lecture delivered at Rhodes on Thursday night, Lewis was scathing about the decision not to suspend police crime intelligence boss Lieutenant-general Richard Mdluli.
He said systemic corruption which "extends up the ladder" was particularly difficult to break.
"Those up the chain of command don't check corruption lower down, because the lower ranks know too much about what is happening at higher levels."
He said to put a person such as Mdluli - who was surrounded by allegations of corruption - in such a senior position ensured "corruption at lower levels is never tackled because the person who would have a key responsibility for tackling corruption appears to have too many skeletons in his own cupboard".
But those in government who were protecting Mdluli had overreached themselves.
"The public outrage has been intense and so has the reaction within the police. I have little doubt that Mdluli will take down a number of politicians with him and the first to go will be those who are supporting him."
He said CW wished to impress upon those who had access to public resources and power they were accountable to the public for the way in which they exercised those powers and for the manner in which those resources were used.
He said corruption also directly exacerbated the material poverty of many already disadvantaged communities and was responsible for a "massive erosion of trust" between the public and their elected representatives and public officials.
He warned CW intended focusing on small towns and the rampant nepotism and corruption that was prevalent in local government
Rhodes vice-chancellor Dr Saleem Badat said by signing the pledge, the university was the first to publicly express, as an institution, its full support for addressing the pervasive and unacceptable corruption in the country as well as its support for CW.
He said all forms of corruption were highly corrosive of the moral foundations of our society, of effective administration, and ultimately of development and democracy.
"By signing the Corruption Watch pledge, as individuals and as a university, we commit ourselves to the fight against corruption generally - in our country, province, district and municipality, in the public and private sectors and civil society - and specifically at Rhodes."
This article originally appeared in the Daily Dispatch on 28 May 2012.