Tragedy of corruption

THE release of statistics by Corruption Watch, showing that one in four Johannesburg drivers have been asked for bribes by the city's metro cops, comes as no surprise.

THE release of statistics by Corruption Watch, showing that one in four Johannesburg drivers have been asked for bribes by the city's metro cops, comes as no surprise.

Not so long ago, Markinor, a research firm, published findings of a survey which showed that corruption was increasingly becoming "normal" for many South Africans.

Already, tender rigging has become part of the normal political lexicon. It's no longer shocking to many South Africans.

In a way, corruption now defines the socio-economic and political landscape. It defines who we are.

What a tragedy.

One needs to have "connections" in high places to secure certain jobs or a tender in state-owned enterprises and to a certain extent in private firms. If you don't have the right political and business connections, you will then be required to pay a bribe to establish those connections. South Africans seems to have settled for that.

Why wouldn't they? Everyday the anti-corruption preachers are themselves caught with their hands in the till. Many walk around with corruption allegations hanging around their necks, ready to spew out conspiracy theories each time they are about to be nailed.

They are unable to grasp the irony inherent in their rhetoric that as they point a finger at others, the three other fingers are pointing at them. Such is the nature of our political leadership. "Strange breed" indeed.

It is little wonder then that the anti-corruption mantra from the corridors of power sounds hollow even as the anti-corruption voices are raised. The establishment of Corruption Watch, a civil society initiative that also includes Cosatu, was partly a result of this frustration.

Now that Corruption Watch has begun to do its work, we eagerly await the results.

The scale of traffic-related corruption is just the tip of an iceberg. More statistics need to be unearthed about how many police officers have asked for bribes in order to make case dockets disappear. What is even more disconcerting about these bribery scandals is that even in instances where they are caught the cops are hardly ever prosecuted.

Why are they not being made to follow their leader, Jackie Selebi? Have they become more sophisticated?

The starting point to rid our society of corruption is to regain our sense of shock.

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