Corruption the enemy: Radebe

26 January 2012 - 16:19 By Sapa
Justice Minister Jeff Radebe
Justice Minister Jeff Radebe

The fight against corruption should be as important as the struggle against apartheid was, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe says.

"Corruption seeks to extinguish the flame that shines on all South Africans, the flame that promises freedom and security for all, the flame of democracy," he said at the launch of the Corruption Watch initiative in Johannesburg.

"Corruption is a criminal act that steals the fruit of our struggle, and we must declare it our enemy as apartheid was. If we acknowledge that corruption is a way of life in South Africa, we have lost the battle."

Radebe said the government looked forward to the positive contribution the Corruption Watch initiative would bring to the country.

"With corruption in government, all members must be dealt with, irrespective of rank or status," he said.

Corruption Watch was being spearheaded by the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) as a way of holding public and private sector officials accountable for corruption. The initiative had a website allowing victims of corruption to lodge complaints. The initiative would then gather all the information, analyse it and make it available to the public.

Radebe said the media had to be applauded for consistently exposing corruption in the government.

"We often do not appreciate the role of media as a watchdog. We want media to continue in its effort to expose corrupt individuals," he said.

Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said a free media was one of the core methods of combating corruption in the country.

"Not a single day goes by without a newspaper reporting on corrupt officials. All stories have this one thing in common, corruption is daylight theft from the poor. Unless we can mobilise and empower people we will not succeed against this growing enemy."

Vavi said corruption also extended to members of trade unions.

"Some union leaders have been paid to turn a blind eye to worker abuse. There are now capitalists in the working class movement. Cosatu insists that people have to choose between pursuing business interests, or serving the public."

Vavi said corruption had made politics a competition of who had the "biggest treasure chest".

"This will destroy the democracy built by the struggle," he said.