Archbishop Makgoba tackles South African government on corruption

Posted Oct 30, 2014

[Anglican Church of Southern Africa] The “insidious cancer of corruption” is “the most egregious threat” to South Africa’s democracy today, Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba has said in a public lecture.

Delivering the Beyers Naude Memorial Lecture at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, on Oct. 27, Makgoba also criticized suggestions that criminalizing corruption was a “Western paradigm.”

“Actually, I think it’s the other way around,” he said. “Corruption is a two-way street, a two-way transaction. For corruption to happen, you have to have a corrupter, someone willing to pay the bribe, and what I will call a “corruptee,” someone willing to take a bribe. For Africans, over the 50 or 60 years since liberation, the Western paradigm — if indeed there can be said to be one — is one in which Westerners have been the corrupters, and African elites the corruptees.”

The archbishop also quoted from the African Union’s 2003 “Convention On Preventing And Combating Corruption,” which said corruption and impunity had “devastating effects on the economic and social development of the African peoples.”

“The most egregious threat to our democracy today is the insidious cancer of corruption. I cannot say it any more simply than that corruption is anti-democracy,” he added.

Quoting his Roman Catholic counterpart in Cape Town, Archbishop Stephen Brislin, he said corruption was not new in South Africa – the colonial and apartheid systems were highly corrupt. Nor did corruption affect only governments, it affected business, corporations, NGOs and even churches.

“So, while all of must be concerned about corruption, no institution can be holier-than-thou about it,” Makgoba said.

“Corruption is paralyzing progress across South Africa today … The moral compasses guiding our leaders and public servants are misaligned.”

The full text of the address is available here.