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‘Bling culture encourages corruption’

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Any serious campaign to deal with corruption has to start with tackling political corruption, which provides the incubating environment for other corruption.

Alvin Botes. Picture: Supplied

WITH “bling” being the new value currency, this culture encourages corruption, dishonesty and builds a society based mostly on relationships of patronage.

This is according to the MEC for Co-operative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs in the Northern Cape, Alvin Botes, who was speaking at the launch of the local government’s Anti-Corruption Awareness Campaign in Kimberley on Monday.

Botes said that any serious campaign to deal with corruption had to start with tackling political corruption, which, he pointed out, provided the incubating environment for other corruption.

“Our approach to the municipal tigers and flies must be consistent. The lowest-paid mayor earns R556 000 a year and the average municipal manager earns R852 000 per annum. In addition, 50 percent of the total municipal operating budget in the Northern Cape is spent on the remuneration of municipal personnel. There is absolutely no need for ‘salary top-ups’,” said Botes.

He added that a municipal traffic officer earned R162 000 per annum – eight times less than a municipal manager. “If we allow unattended corrupt practices at senior municipal levels, we can expect that a traffic officer can learn from the bosses.”

Botes pointed out that with the collapse of the values that underpinned the ANC’s liberation ideology, a new “bling” culture had become part of the new South Africa.

“When the new ANC leaders came to power they inherited the trappings of state power left by the apartheid government: the state cars with bodyguards, villas, being waited on, free schooling for their children, free health care, free luxury travel and so on. This lifestyle became the new standard of achievement – a sign that one has made it. Individual worth is now increasingly measured on whether one can afford the ‘bling’ lifestyle – not on one’s contribution to public service or doing the public good.

“Gwede Mantashe, the ANC secretary-general, said recently that the success of the liberation struggle was not to be measured on how many millionaires we have produced, but rather how the poverty experienced by the majority of people was addressed. Only ridding ourselves from this destructive ‘bling’ culture can put our country back on a winning track.”

Botes added that according to the Auditor-General, R238 million irregular expenditure was incurred due to non-compliance with the supply chain management regulations in the Northern Cape.

“The most common findings related to procurement without a competitive bidding or quotation process.

“Between 20 and 25 percent of state procurement expenditure is wasted through overpayment or corruption. If uncurbed, corruption will undermine government’s efforts to deliver services.”

He stated that a Local Government Anti-Corruption Strategy, a legislative and regulatory framework aimed at combating corruption, was in place.

The strategy calls for municipal leadership to set the tone and drive good governance, while communities, as “owners” of municipalities, are urged to hold officials accountable and ensure that they are transparent.

“Municipalities remain the closest point of service delivery. We should all work together with communities, stakeholders, law enforcement agencies to stop corruption,” Botes stated.

He further urged the SAPS to pursue alleged perpetrators without fear or favour or prejudice.