The new Corruption Watch television advert doesn’t just feature people doing corrupt activities – it features Corruption Watch staff making their national screen debut doing all the things they fight against every day.
The organisation has never made a television ad before, but the production adds a new facet to its mission of raising awareness of corruption and mobilising public action against the menace. By pitching in to act in the commercial, its staff not only helped to keep production costs down – always an important consideration for an NGO – but also showed that they are more than willing to walk the talk when it comes to fighting corruption.
The ad centres on the idea that a corrupt society will provide almost any opportunity for unscrupulous individuals to take advantage – whether it’s paying a bribe to escape a traffic fine, getting a driver’s licence, or securing a tender. It closes with a call to all citizens to report corruption and help to wipe it out.
The original version of the ad runs for a minute and is only available online, but two shorter 30-second versions are currently airing on all three SABC channels.
Corruption Watch’s executive director David Lewis, who can be seen as one of the businessmen making merry as a lucrative bribe for a tender is arranged, said: “Our appearances on TV current affairs and news programmes have always elicited a strong response from the public. We have now entered the costly world of TV advertising. Partly to defray the production costs of the ad, the staff acted. Of course we all think that we missed our true vocation!”
Corruption Watch has made tender and procurement corruption one of its focus areas, and receives reports almost on a daily basis that allege this type of illegal activity. In 2013 it published a three-part series on corruption in procurement, and has also played an important role in several high-profile investigations, such as the Sassa social grants case, the circumcision case involving the Mpumalanga health department – which was driven by Corruption Watch – and the bid-rigging scandal in the construction industry.
Educating the public
“Playing the corrupt policewoman was definitely not as easy as I thought it would be or as easy as it looked because I had to make it look genuine,” said a bright young actress, who is one of our in-house lawyers when she’s away from the camera. She usually plays an integral role in the investigations into corruption conducted by Corruption Watch, and for a change was playing the baddie. “This was difficult for me given that I am a corruption buster and it felt awkward being the corruptor.”
But she added that after seeing the final product she felt proud of herself and her colleagues for having played a role in spreading the word about Corruption Watch’s work. “We did a great job and I am proud of the contribution we make as an organisation in the fight against corruption.”
Campaigns and stakeholder relations manager Ronald Lucky Menoe, who stars as the dad having second thoughts about bribing a cop, is tipped to become the new Desmond Dube after his prominent role in the production. “The angle that I took was one of educating the public,” he said. “I wanted to show people who go through this on a daily basis that you can still change your mind and decide to do the right thing.”
Menoe added that the experience was educational for him and in future he will resist the temptation to drive without his safety belt, talk on his cellphone while driving, and drive at a high speed. “As a Corruption Watch employee I have a responsibility to not get myself into situations where I can easily pay a bribe to get out.”