It’s time to act against corruption.

This is the message from South African Council of Churches (SACC) in the wake of widespread and much publicized corruption scandals, related to Covid-19 pandemic relief funds. South Africans have been outraged by the looting of public funds and the alleged misuse of R500 billion stimulus package announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa a few months ago.

SACC, together with the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the Foundation for Human Rights and the Council for the Advancement of South African Constitution (CASAC), are embarking on a mission to help South Africans in eradicating corruption.

“Let us all close ranks and unmask those from within the public and private sector who appear to want to serve society, but have nothing but their own interests at heart; let there be consequences for the corrupt; and let us recover what rightfully belongs to the people,” SACC General Secretary, Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana said in a statement.

Photo: GCIS

“After years of state capture and unethical governance, and more recently, largescale looting of Covid-19 emergency funding, that time is upon us. We are compelled to assert: This is not how we shall be known as a nation. We refuse to allow corrupt networks in different provinces to go about their criminal activity, trampling on the rights of honest and law-abiding people!”

The six organizations will set up platforms, where South Africans, including the general public, public servants and business people, will be able to report corrupt activities without fear of victimization.

“In the next week, the SACC and its partner organisations will work with a number of other formations, academics, and legal experts to mobilise a comprehensive societal response against corruption. This includes the reopening of the ‘Unburdening Panel’ for whistleblowers and public servants to report corruption, as well as a national call for the public to demonstrate their outrage at not only the looting, but the lack of consequences for it,” read the statement.

Mpumlwana, in the statement, makes a clarion call on South Africans to do whatever in their power to hold the government accountable in an attempt to stop corruption and recover the losses.

The statement partly reads:

In a build up to this, we call on the public to make the following pledge:

On building an ethical state:

Refuse to allow Constitutional rights to be eroded by a network of thieves and thugs. Corrupt politicians, business people, officials and professionals must not ‘get away with murder’. By preventing looting during a pandemic, we can indeed be the difference between life and death;

Name and shame the corrupt, and support and strengthen honest public servants and whistleblowers; and, call for government to ensure that all public representatives and political party executive committee members, and their immediate families, as well as all civil servants not be allowed to conduct business with the state.

On transparency: 

Demand that budgets for all Covid-19 related contracts at all levels of government are made public, along with the unit prices paid per item/ for services; and,

Demand that government makes public its spending of the R500 billion stimulus package, and call on the Solidarity Fund to do likewise. Practical measures should be put in place to ensure all further expenditure of these funds, as well as the IMF loan, is made public in real-time.

On accountability:

Demand that government recoups all funds lost through irregular and corrupt Covid-19 contracts; and, use whatever means of mobilisation possible under Covid-19 restrictions to make it known to government that we will not accept its ‘paper commitments’ about tackling corruption. Ensure that those implicated in corrupt activities are investigated and prosecuted. We want to see the corrupt in jail!

The state cannot tell us that they did not know that the ‘predators’ were waiting to ‘eat’ early on in the pandemic. The SACC warned about this in April and called for specific Covid-19 corruption busting measures.

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