The allegations that South Africa’s defences against Covid-19 have been turned into business opportunities for the politically connected are a massive setback for the country’s integrity and post-pandemic economic landscape, the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation has warned.
“With each allegation the trust deficit between the state, on the one hand, and citizens and companies who may be enticed to grow the economy, on the other, widens.
“If investors, local and foreign, can’t be enticed to the post-pandemic reconstruction table the task of reducing systemic inequality while re-building the economy becomes considerably more challenging,” it said.
The foundation said that while much has been said about the things that have gone wrong – “little has been done to set them right”.
“There is a culture of impunity when it comes to corruption. Impunity flourishes in the absence of enforcement. None of the big fish and few little ones ever get caught.”
It said that looting around Covid-19 allocation is not a big surprise.
The foundation said that the country seems stuck in a generational rut. “Corrupt leaders have been tolerated largely out of strong emotional bonds to the organisation and its group of exceptional leaders who ultimately prevailed in the long struggle against apartheid.
“Instead of acting against the corrupt, over the years, systems and individuals have been compromised and the State and ruling party have become increasingly factionalised.”
“The need for new, younger voices and leaders, with the energy and insight to reconstruct a less unequal society from the ashes of the pandemic – less unencumbered by the past than their parents, and with more clarity on the principles of accountability and sustainability – is becoming glaringly obvious.”
The foundation said that stopping corruption is a whole of society responsibility.
“Report the traffic officer asking you for a bribe, report the official who asks for commission when purchasing goods for government, report the company producing sub-standard goods and services… build a culture of outrage and intolerance.”
It warned that for the state, the window of opportunity is closing to hold the culprits in its ranks accountable.
“If it closes we must brace ourselves for turbulence. For, in democracies, when the people are ready, governments change.”