Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Cosatu logo

The launch of Corruption Watch, on 26 January 2012, could not come at a more appropriate time. COSATU wishes it well and pledges its total support for its work to defeat corruption, the pernicious cancer that is sabotaging our revolutionary struggle. 

The Minister of Finance’s bold move to take over the Health Department in Gauteng, the Department of Police, Roads and Transport in the Free State, five departments in Limpopo, and the earlier takeover of the Eastern Cape Department of Education has dramatically highlighted the colossal problem of mismanagement of public money, fraud, and corruption.

COSATU reaffirms its full support for Comrade Gordhan’s move. The evidence he has produced to justify his takeover in Limpopo has provided the clearest possible proof that the looting of the country’s wealth is becoming endemic in South Africa.

He revealed evidence of no proper cash management, haphazard payment of service providers – sometimes as often as eight times a month without proper verification of the services provided or due regard for money coming in – supply chain management processes not in line with legal requirements, 200 ‘ghost’ teachers who cannot be accounted for, awarding public works tenders without any bidding processes, and the modification of tenders in the public works department to increase their value after they were awarded.

The provincial government has no money to pay doctors, teachers and nurses and bills for services to hospitals and schools. It is technically bankrupt and set for a R2bn deficit at the end of the 2011-12 financial year in March.

And Limpopo is not unique. What the minister has revealed is just the tip of the ice-berg.

Auditor-General, Terence Nombembe, uncovered R20bn in unauthorised expenditure in 2010-11. Only three out of 39 government departments (down from six three years ago), and 106 out of 272 state-owned enterprises, had clean audits for 2011 and only seven municipalities out of 237 received a clean audit for 2009/10.

The former head of the Special Investigating Unit, Willie Hofmeyr, has estimated that the government loses about R30bn to corruption every year.

The loss of such huge sums of money has devastating impact on the country’s economy. It means that billions of rands which could and should have been spent on improving our healthcare and education systems, promoting economic growth and creating jobs and providing basic services to our poorest communities is being squandered.

This points to an appalling tolerance of mediocrity and incompetence, but, even worse, a tolerance and even justification of corruption, highlighted by those who have been exposed as corrupt or incompetent brazenly refusing to accept responsibility and resign from their posts, as if they see nothing wrong with being found out stealing the people’s money. 

All this is wreaking untold damage on the moral fibre of the nation. We are moving towards a society in which the morality of our revolutionary movement – selflessness, service to the people and caring for the poor and vulnerable – is being swept away a culture of individual self-enrichment and ‘me-first’.

It is a culture which grows within the system of capitalism, which is always based on super-exploitation of the workers who create their wealth and uses every means to maximise profits, including collusion to fix prices and offering bribes to secure tenders.

This cancer is spreading fast from the private sector into the public service, as businesses are set up to corruptly obtain tenders from the state, some of them run by public representatives themselves or members of their families.

That is why COSATU is insisting that people have to choose whether they want to pursue their business interests or serve the public. They cannot do both at the same time. There is an inherent conflict of interest.

Corruption is also corrupting our political life, as some corrupt politicians and officials build political support by bribing people to back their factions, which are no longer based on ideological differences but on who has the biggest treasure chest to dole out favours.

We risk leadership contests changing from battles of ideas into battles to control of the public purse-strings. This will destroy the democratic traditions of our movement and lead to paralysis and disunity. Worst of all is the growing evidence that corruption is becoming literally a matter of life and death, as people are being intimidated or even killed for exposing and preventing corruption.

The big majority of ANC members share these concerns, which were brilliantly captured by ANC Gauteng Provincial Secretary David Makhura, in his tribute to Comrade Joe Slovo on 6 January 2012.

“Undoubtedly,” he said, “we must do something to salvage the movement from total degeneration. It is not going to be easy to roll back the negative tendencies and moral decay that have a corrosive effect on the integrity and moral stature of the movement in society. We will need the foresight, courage, sacrifice and eternal optimism of Cde Joe Slovo.

“On their part, the beneficiaries of anarchy, corruption, conflict and a divided ANC will continue to do everything in their power to foster the implosion of the ANC. These beneficiaries range from the historic strategic opponents of the national democratic revolution at domestic and international levels, as well as members of the ANC and Alliance structures who thrive and survive only in chaotic, divisive and conflict-ridden environments.” 

Corruption Watch can help us to fight back, to expose, prosecute and punish those guilty of corruption, theft and mismanagement of public resources.

It will provide whistle-blowers with a website to report cases of corruption. it will investigate allegations and hand over prima facie evidence to the authorities.

It will gather and disseminate information from its website to highlight corruption ‘hotspots’, and get people talking and involved in the fight. This will help to build a climate in which every South African is playing a part in isolating and shaming the culprits. It will help to establish a tradition that those caught with their hands in the till will voluntarily resign, shamed by the weight of public disapproval, rather than defiantly remaining in office while the evidence against them mounts up.

As David Lewis, Corruption Watch Executive Director, has said: “Corruption Watch… is a response to escalating levels of corruption. No matter how good the police are, and as important as it is to prosecute, we’re not going to solve this scourge by serial prosecution but by people standing up to it in both the public and the private sector”.

COSATU urges all its members and all South Africans to work closely with Corruption Watch to help to get rid of this fatal cancer within our society.

Viva Corruption Watch Viva!

Patrick Craven (National Spokesperson)

Congress of South African Trade Unions





The launch of Corruption Watch, on 26 January 2012, could not come at a more appropriate time. COSATU wishes it well and pledges its total support for its work to defeat corruption, the pernicious cancer that is sabotaging our revolutionary struggle.