22 March 2012 – Students added their voice to the corruption fight at a Human Rights Day event held yesterday at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Pietermaritzburg campus.
All participants signed the anti-corruption pledge, committing to a bribe-free society and acting responsibly when in positions of power while encouraging others to do the same.
The meeting, co-hosted by Corruption Watch and the Pietermaritzburg branch of Students for Law and Social Justice (SLSJ), kicked off with the university’s choir performing three nation-building songs.
Pietermaritzburg SLSJ chair Carl Heinz Uys said: “When apartheid ended, when our forefathers overcame many injustices, we stood upright, with jubilation.”
In his keynote address Nhlanhla Ndlovu, a board member of Section27, focused on equality and human rights, exploring the theme “all are equal, but some are more equal than others”.
He pointed out that many South Africans were still not realising their human rights, so it was not possible that everyone could celebrate the holiday.
Ndlovu stressed the importance of leadership, particularly that which embraces the spirit of Ubuntu. He added that the president of South Africa was the servant of the people and should be reminded of his responsibilities.
After the speeches students watched the film version of George Orwell’s book Animal Farm, which was published in 1945.
The film explores ways in which corruption undermines the goals of struggle. It shows what happens when leaders assume the roles of master and abuse their power, resulting in discrimination, inequality and disregard for human rights and social justice.
The film underscored the point that corruption has always greased the wheels of exploitation and injustice.
In the debate that followed students highlighted that “the duty of ensuring social equality among our people is not only that of the government, but the responsibility of every citizen”. This was another prominent theme at the event.
A number of students raised the issue of high levels of inequality in South Africa, making it vital for the privileged to acknowledge their broader responsibilities.
A Pietermaritzburg community member at the event made a strong suggestion that social justice studies should be part of the curriculum in high school and tertiary education institution.
“Any person who stands in an advantaged position has a duty to extend their hand to the lesser advantaged,” said Nduduzu Msibi from the Black Management Forum.
The event closed with a moving poem recited by poetry group Flexible Minds.
In his closing remarks Nkosinathi Ghobozi, general secretary of the Pietermaritzburg SLSJ, said “it takes one man to change a light bulb, but that light bulb lights up the whole room”.
Corruption Watch recently co-hosted a Human Rights Day event in Pietermaritzburg where student participants signed the anti-graft pledge, committing to a bribe-free society and responsible behaviour.