Public Protector’s Addressed At 35th Crime Stoppers Conference
October 14,2014; “The Public Protector SA Team and I are honoured by the privilege of participating in this historical event, the 35th International Crime Stoppers Conference, organised under the theme “It’s time For Change.”
I understand that our beautiful continent, Africa, is hosting this global gathering of Change Agents dedicated to combating crime for the first time and that there’s about 600 activists in this room. Congratulations to Crime Line and the South African Police Service, the joint organizers, for a job well done.
According to Klitgaard, Corruption (C)=Monopoly (M) + Discretion(D) -Accountability (A). The apartheid state allowed monopoly of decision-making minus many contemporary safeguards excesses such as transparency and supervised exercise of public power. The final say in many instances was with either the Executive or the Legislature. While the judiciary played a crucial role, particularly in the area of administrative law, many ordinary persons, the ones we refer to as Gogo Dlamini’s could not afford the courts.
As I reflected on all of this while preparing my address, I came across a speech by the former General Secretary of the United Nations, Mr Kofi Annan, when he addressed the UN General Assembly during the adoption of the UN Convention Against Corruption in New York, eleven years ago. Mr Annan said the following:
“Corruption is an insidious plague that has a wide range of corrosive effects on societies. It undermines democracy and the rule of law, leads to violations of human rights, distorts markets, erodes the quality of life, and allows organized crime, terrorism and other threats to human security to flourish.”
My long held view is that corruption is a societal than rather than governmental problem. I’m certain that that’s your view too. I’m also certain that we are here today because we believe that crime generally is a societal problem and in the light of globalization, a global problem.
Back to our anti-corruption work as a Public Protector, we are able to make a difference against corruption because we are part of an integrity system that is built to last. The constitutional architecture of our accountability system, particularly in the public sector, is designed in a manner that fosters synergies that limit impunity.
Is South Africa a corrupt country? My response is always: No, we are certainly not a corrupt country. Like many other nations, we are a country that has a problem of corruption.
According to the 2014 Ibrahim Index of African Governance, we are number 4 after Mauritius, Cape Verde and Botswana. This is good and we should build on it, going forward.
Regarding legislation, we have the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act, the Prevention of Organized Crime Act, the Protected Disclosures Act, the Witness Protection Act and the Financial Intelligence Centre Act and the Public Protector Act among others.
On the watchdogs like us, we have the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation also known as the Hawks, the Independent Police Investigation Directorate, both falling under the SAPS, the Asset Forfeiture Unit under the National Prosecuting Authority, the Special Investigating Unit, Witness Protection Unit, the Presidential Hotline and the Anti-corruption Coordinating Committee under the Department of Public Service and Administration. We also have independent constitutional institutions with administrative oversight powers, which include the Public Protector, the Auditor-General and the Independent Electoral Commission and the Public Service Commission. Human Rights bodies such as the South African Human Rights Commission also play a role in fostering integrity by limiting discretion of decision-makers through enforcing human rights.
Our corruption mandate, as the Public Protector, comes from section 182 of the Constitution, giving us powers to investigate, report on and remedy maladministration.
In conclusion, I have already noted that South Africa is fourth on the Ibrahim Index of African Governance. To improve on that we need to take a hardline stance in the following approach.
I’m certain your dialogue will emerge with solutions that will make a difference in the fight against all crimes, including the insidious soulless crime of corruption. You will also somehow contribute towards ensuring that future generations inherit states are accountable state that operate with integrity at all times while being responsive to the needs of all people. Remember we’re ether part of the problem through our words and actions or part of the solution. The only ones that celebrate the cracks are criminals, including those involved in corruption.
Don’t forget to enjoy the beautiful city of Cape Town and if possible enjoy the rest of our beautiful country.
It’s Time For Change indeed!
– Adv. Thuli Madonsela, Public Protector SA