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Was there a corruption buster who stood out for you this year? Or a corruption perpetrator who almost made you despair? Now’s the time for you to let us know who you particularly liked or loathed – yes, voting is open for Hero and Zero of the Year.
Last year our heroes were the three arms deal critics – Andrew Feinstein, Paul Holden and Andrew van Vuuren. They withdrew from the Arms Deal Commission in protest against unfair and unproductive actions on the commission’s part, and when the commission presents its final report – some time in the near-ish future – we will see if they were right.
On the zero side, our winner was Eskom, which was on the list not for the all-too-frequent load shedding that it’s become known for, but for unnecessarily spending millions and millions of taxpayers’ money on labour consultants.
Our winners for 2012 and 2013, public protector Thuli Madonsela and President Jacob Zuma, now reside in the Corruption Watch Hall of Fame as a result of their runaway wins for two years in a row. To give other nominees a chance, we have taken them out of contention.
This year we have another mouth-watering selection. Will your hero be the #MyHandsAreClean supporters – all the people around the world, from Pakistan to Cambodia and beyond, who so enthusiastically took part in our campaign? Or do you favour Fikile Bili, a businessman from the North West, who blew the whistle on corrupt government employees who tried to extort a bribe from him? We salute them, and all those who take a public stand against corruption.
Government entities are slowly coming to the party, and we acknowledge them – the Gauteng Transport Department launched its anti-fraud and corruption campaign in March, while the national Department of Basic Education went after school exam cheaters in a countrywide investigation, finding the worst offenders in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.
And the Durban Regional Court sentenced former provincial police spokesman Vincent Mdunge to five years in jail for fraud and forgery over a fake matric certificate. The court’s message is that there will be no tolerance for offenders.
But heroes don’t have to be high-profile – an anonymous truck driver from the Eastern Cape reported two Mthatha traffic officers for allegedly trying to solicit a bribe from him. The whistleblower didn’t give in to the bribe request, and the officers were arrested.
While we read daily about police misconduct, we mustn’t forget that there are thousands of honest cops out there, doing their job with commitment and decency. Colonel Hansia Hansraj, head of the Goodwood police station, diligently pursued what she suspected was corruption in the ranks, and she netted none other than Western Cape police commissioner Arno Lamoer and four co-accused.
Lastly, Detective Constable Mlungisi Mhlongo of Kempton Park refused to be bribed by a suspect in a theft case. He engaged with the perpetrator to build a solid case, and the man is now in custody.
On the zero side, we are spoilt for choice. Recall the disgraceful behaviour of police looters during the xenophobic violence that broke out earlier this year. Is this how custodians of the law should behave? On that note, Western Cape Police Commissioner Arno Lamoer, with four other accused, was charged with 109 counts of corruption, fraud, money laundering and defeating the ends of justice.
And former deputy national police commissioner Lieutenant-General Hamilton Hlela pleaded guilty in Pretoria’s Specialised Commercial Crimes Court to corruption and receiving kickbacks. Shocking for public servants of this stature!
Labour minister Mildred Oliphant covered up her special advisor’s R1-million-plus shopping spree by suppressing a forensic report and making everyone who saw it sign a confidentiality agreement. Then there was police minister Nathi Nhleko, who not only decided that President Jacob Zuma did not have to pay back the Nkandla money, but warned that taxpayers had not seen the last of the upgrades.
Let’s not leave out communications minister Faith Muthambi, who plans to appeal against the High Court’s November ruling that her appointment of SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng is unlawful and irrational. The taxpayer will naturally have to cough up.
In the Free State, the badly-run Matjhabeng local municipality decided to foot the legal bill for two former MECs who are in court for alleged abuse of public funds – using taxpayers’ money for this generous deed. At the ANC’s legislature office in the Eastern Cape, two employees were re-deployed for standing up against the irregular appointment of an unqualified candidate, allegedly made by chief whip Mzoleli Mrara.
We also like former Northern Cape finance MEC John Block, who for five years pretended that he was innocent of charges of corruption, tender fraud and money laundering – until the regional high court found him guilty.
Corruption Watch (RF) NPC is an accredited Chapter of Transparency International e.V..
All views and statements represent those of Corruption Watch (RF) -NPC unless
otherwise noted, and do not necessarily reflect those of Transparency International e.V..