Good Governance conference enters second and last day
The annual National Good Governance Conference entered its second and last day on Tuesday, following a successful opening day, with talks from esteemed leaders from within the oversight sector.
Speakers included Public Protector Adv. Thuli Madonsela, Justice and Planning Ministers Jeff Radebe and Trevor Manuel, President of African Monitor, Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane and Dr Barney Pityana, Rector of the College of Transfiguration.
The conference is but one of the activities that are taking place this week as part of the annual National Good Governance Week. The theme is: "Good Governance and Poverty: Two Sides of the Same Coin."
The Week seeks to strengthen synergies among bodies within the oversight sector, including Parliament, the executive, the judiciary, Chapter 9, 10 and 11 institutions, civil society and the media. This is for purposes of forming a united front against bad governance.
When the conference comes to an end on Tuesday afternoon, delegates are expected to emerge with resolutions and a declaration that will contribute to accelerating the pace of development, particularly the pace of meeting Millennium Development Goals, which have target of halving hunger and poverty by 2014, said host, Public Protector Adv. Madonsela.
"We must help ourselves in all aspects of society to govern better, to reduce indifference, corruption and all other maladies so that the promises of the Constitution can be real," she said, adding that the promises included the right to a decent life as articulated in the Constitution's preamble and the Bill of Rights.
The Public Protector said the conference needed to talk "good governance" as a thread that bound all together in that the things contained in the Constitution informed the day-to-day acts of governance by those who exercised state power.
She said emphasis had to be put on "governance" rather than "government" as governance was a bilateral exercise that involved the governor and the governed.
"Governance is not a one way process where we think we act and the people receive,” the Public Protector said. "It is a process where we collectively think; a few of us act and ultimately account to the bigger collective".
In his address, Minister Radebe said good governance was an imperative if South Africa’s democracy was "worth its salt." He said stealing money meant for development was not only a crime but also an act that sabotaged government's ability to meet the needs of people.
Minister Radebe, who is also the head of government's Justice, Crime Prevention and Security cluster, said the conviction rate on corruption cases stood at 72%. He added that the National Prosecuting Authority's Assets Forfeiture Unit had in the last 13 years seized ill-gotten assets to the value of nearly R5billion.
"We must ensure that everywhere in our country we rid ourselves of the culture of corruption characterized by easy financial gains," he said. "We must continue to encourage people to be whistle-blowers, and report all forms of fraud and corruption."
Archbishop Ndungane told delegates that failure to bring an end to poverty in the country was primarily a failure of governance. He said good governance needed to concern itself with the need to shift from an unjust, unequal world towards an equal society.
Good governance, Archbishop Ndungane said, should be founded on the principle of a citizen-driven democratic system if it is to be truly transformative and sustainable. He said studies done by his organization showed that ordinary citizens wanted to be able to effect decisions that affected their lives.
"Transparency and accountability must be enshrined as a central aspect of good governance if it is to have tangible results," he said, adding that lack capacity of capacity to deliver and failure to deal decisively with corruption were among the factors that threatened good governance.
Minister Manuel said the conference was well-timed in that it came at the time when the country was nearing the 20th anniversary of its democracy. He explained that this called for introspection on whether the lives of South Africans were getting better.
Minister Manuel told the conference that government had developed the National Development Plan, to address the issues of good governance and poverty, among other things. He explained that the plan focused mainly on eliminating poverty and inequality.
Earlier, the Public Protector expressed sadness at the death of forensic investigator, Lawrence Moepi, who was shot and killed last week. She said, at the time of his death, Moepi was assisting her office with several investigations.
"We mourn his passing," she said. "We are grateful to the Creator for having brought him to this world and for the space we shared with him and the wisdom he shared with us."
On Thursday, October 24, an inter-faith prayer meeting for good governance will be held at Freedom Park in Pretoria. The aim is seek the assistance of the faith community in strengthening the moral fabric of society to enhance good governance.
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