In 2015 the Unite Against Corruption (UAC) campaign responded to an upsurge in anger at the extent to which corruption was becoming embedded and institutionalised across our country. The formation of the UAC created a space for a very diverse group of people and organisations from different sectors to come together and take a firm stand against corruption. We worked hard to put corruption on the agenda and to help rebuild a civil society response to it.
When UAC was formed, we had no illusions that a quick fix to corruption would be found, but rather that this would be a longer term campaign, and not least because many people started to believe that a corrupt society could not be turned around. We disagreed!
Indeed on the day of the 2016 State of the Nation Address (SONA) it is clear that corruption has become the number one issue facing South Africa. Ending corruption could save us tens of billions of rands.
The members of UAC are fully committed to carrying forward our mandate in 2016. We’ll continue to expose the injustices created by corruption, demand accountability and continue to create a platform where people can unite for this common cause.
Government responds to UAC!
On September 30 and October 14 2015 we gathered in our thousands at the Union Buildings and then on the streets of Johannesburg to hand over a list of demands to the minister in the Presidency, Jeff Radebe. A deadline of 30 November 2015 was given for a response but was missed. However, on 18 December UAC received a substantial response from the minister. We are carefully reviewing it to determine whether the concrete suggestions we have made to counter corruption will be adopted by government. We will publish Radebe’s response and ours in the near future.
Corruption and the Constitutional Court hearings
As a coalition, we have watched with great interest the recent case brought to the Constitutional Court. Corruption Watch, a founder member of the UAC, was able to play a positive role in the hearings, and serve as the voice of civil society. We applaud the efforts of all those who seek to counter the scourge of corruption by demanding accountable leadership.
Today thousands of people will march to Parliament to coincide with the SONA. We hope that through these and other demonstrations parliamentarians are left in no doubt that there should be zero tolerance of corruption, and that we expect them to lead by example, collectively and individually. The local government elections later this year will be a moment of truth that must test each parties’ commitment to combating corruption.
Shining a spotlight on corruption and its impact
In 2016 South Africa’s democracy will be put to the test. The UAC will be scrutinising today’s SONA and the budget speech. We have been told to expect a slew of austerity measures, that will inevitably impact on the poor. We will be asking the sharp questions about the funds that could be freed if there was a zero tolerance attitude towards corruption. We will also be ensuring that those who have been robbed of their community and family services because of corruption, are given support when they challenge corruption, and especially in a context of cuts in social spending. We cannot stand by when the poor of our country are made poorer!
Over the next few weeks, the UAC will be strategising about its action plans for the next period. We will be engaging faith-based organisations, trade unions, community bodies and students, the unemployed and all of the 300-plus organisations that subscribe to our founding principles.
We are mindful of the fact that where corruption has been tackled effectively it has inevitably involved the mobilisation of those most affected by it. Our main task as a coalition is to ensure that we help build a people’s response to corruption, without fear and favour, and work hard towards protecting our democracy when it is at its most vulnerable.
The journey towards a corruption-free South Africa is not an easy one, but the UAC reaffirms its commitment to be amongst all of those who believe that it can and must be achieved.
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