The tendency of South Africans to act as if corruption was normal was a serious cause for concern, former National Prosecuting Authority head Vusi Pikoli said on Friday 28 February. He was addressing delegates at an EE Publishers annual lunch in Johannesburg.
”Corruption exists not only in the public sector, but is also enabled on a large scale by three culprits: the corrupt politician, the corrupt businessman or woman and the corrupt civil servant,” Pikoli noted.
“It is not enough to have legislation if there is no political will to enforce that legislation,” he said, adding that tapping into the law was the only way that inconsistencies in the justice system could be rectified.
He placed great emphasis on the role that citizen participation played in the monitoring of the country and, subsequently, accomplishing envisaged progressive change.
“As citizens we don’t want to see corrupt individuals stand as official members of parliament,” he said. “Let us not underestimate the power we have in our hands as citizens to change the leadership.”
Unflinching in his principled stance towards the law and the independence of the judiciary, Pikoli said South Africa’s Constitution was a living document and should be regarded as such owing to its progressive nature.
He also emphasised the importance of exemplary leadership, where government and those in authority and positions of public power should be made to reckon with those founding values.
”While corruption is, to a large extent, deeply rooted in past governments, it should not simply be accepted that South Africa’s current government be measured according to those ‘lowest [common] denominator’ standards. The question of decisive power is simply more relevant today than during any other time in South Africa,” he emphasised.
Pikoli also lauded the role that Public Protector Thuli Madonsela plays in South Africa and warned against people who were quick to criticise and condemn institutions that upheld the law.