Public Protector calls on society to reject “tenderprenuership”
Public Protector Adv Thuli Madonsela on Tuesday called on society to reject “tenderprenuership”, saying it bred corruption, which was milking the state of resources that should have been channeled towards uplifting the poor.
She was addressing a group of retired and practicing bankers, tourism professionals and members of the academic community at a meeting organized by the Centre for Christian Spirituality in Stellenbosch.
Speaking on the theme “Curbing corruption is South Africa today – The importance of new norms and values for our society”, the Public Protector said she had been shocked by the reality that there were “paper companies” only created as vehicles for specific tender deals. She said this had been revealed in her recent report titled On the Point of Tenders.
Apart from being vulnerable to corruption, such companies were not sustainable and this was not in line with national goals pertaining to sustainable economic development, the Public Protector said, adding that government needed to look closely at this phenomenon.
She said country needed both new values and “going back to basics” in order to triumph over corruption. The Public Protector added that corruption was a symptom of selfishness and that this was not a traditional South African value.
Sharing was the traditional culture in the country and many rural people still lived according to that principle, she said, adding that reaping the fruit of one’s labour was another traditional culture. According to the Public Protector, many cross-cultural proverbs attested to this point. The “instant” wealth that came with “tenderprenuership” could therefore not be consistent with these values, she said.
The Public Protector told the meeting that robbing the poor as seen in cases of billing for RDP houses despite non-delivery, including bribing poor people to sign letters suggesting they were happy with their houses despite the homes having not been delivered, could not be consistent with traditional values.
“The struggle for democracy in this country was fuelled and propelled by unparalleled selflessness. People enrolled in the struggle without expecting a cushy or pampered life either as public authorities or as state contractors. The key expectations then were prison, exile or death, she said.
The Public Protector called for the values of ubuntu and human dignity to be upheld, with the state being accountable, transparent and its action informed by public interest as opposed to self-interest.
Arguing that the country’s values could not be responsible for the “moral bankruptcy” that fed corruption, the Public Protector blamed the status quo on the point that the state seemed to not have transformed enough to embrace the people-first values contained in the Constitution.
“Furthermore, there is a culture of boundless materialism that has crept in. Others say such a culture is natural for new democracies, with others going further to label it a ‘liberator syndrome’,” the Public Protector said.
She said her office was planning to conduct a systemic investigation into the “universal” problem of false billing next year, adding that she suspected that the government was losing billions of rand as a result of the problem. Travelling and hospitality services had been specifically fingered in that regard, the Public Protector said.
The Public Protector added that her office, through the Good Governance Forum, had begun to target the education system and learners of all ages to drive home an anti-corruption message. She said it was important to teach children at a young age about right and wrong, including earning a decent living and not living off other people’s pain.
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