South Africa is on the “verge” of joining the ranks of dysfunctional states as the effects of corruption debilitate all spheres of life, the chairperson of a constitutional watchdog said on Wednesday.
“In the changing circumstances of our times, a conservative assault on the Constitution from some of the most powerful in our society threatens to fatally undermine our capacity to overcome poverty and inequality,” Sipho Pityana, the chairperson of the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac) said in a statement.
“It is now beyond doubt that corruption and patronage are so pervasive, rampant and crippling in our society that we are on the verge of being deemed a dysfunctional state …”
Pityana said a study by Casac had found three potentially crippling legal and institutional weaknesses in South Africa: a lack of effective monitoring and enforcement agencies; no institution with a clear mandate to drive educational campaigns on corruption; and no “true” independence for organisations tasked with fighting corruption.
Casac, he said, was proposing “a dedicated, independent agency” that would be responsible and accountable for the investigation of corrupt activities alongside “proactive preventive measures” such as education of the public.
Pityana said the agency would need significant political support to ensure that it was well funded.
“If there is truly no political will to address corruption, no mechanism existing or proposed can succeed,” he said. — Sapa