A return to civic activism similar to that of 1970s and 1980s is the only way communities can effectively fight corruption, said Lenasia community members who led an anti-corruption campaign as part of Mandela Day on Wednesday 18 July.
Corruption Watch was invited to speak at the event organised by radio station Eastwave 92.2fm. The meeting brought together religious leaders and representatives from women’s organisations, youth and the community policing forum.
Community members raised concerns about the spread of corruption and the threat of it permeating every aspect of their lives. They reported high incidents of corruption in their interaction with metro traffic cops and SAPS.
Eastwave Radio chairperson Neeshan Balton said people should think twice about paying a bribe as these small, day-to-day acts translated into bigger forms of corruption.
He was supported by Shahidia Kazie of Women for Peace who reminded the community to stop seeing corruption as a problem that could only be solved by the government: “It is time we look at our own values and actions,” she said.
Earlier in the day some of the community members had toured Avalon Cemetery in Soweto to visit the graves of struggle heroes such as Helen Joseph, Hector Pieterson, Joe Slovo, and Lilian Ngoyi.
Balton said the tour was a reminder of the sacrifices many made to free South Africa from apartheid. He bemoaned today’s “materialism and greed” and said it stood in direct contrast to Nelson Mandela’s spirit of service and justice.
Pastor Russel Abrahams encouraged the community to speak out against graft and do so “courageously and forthrightly”. He also urged them to “live” the anti-corruption message.
Community leaders expressed a willingness to work closely with Corruption Watch and mobilise more people to report and reject corruption wherever and whenever they come across it.
Attendants signed the Corruption Watch pledge and committed to taking the anti-corruption message further.
Corruption Watch executive director David Lewis commended the community for taking a stand against corruption: “This is the kind of civil activism we want to see all around the country. As Corruption Watch, we cannot fight alone.”
Read some of the event Tweets here: