CAPE TOWN — Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu warned on Saturday that the country could be plunged into turbulence if corruption is not death with.
In a statement, Tutu spoke out strongly with respect to allegations that South Africa’s response to COVID-19 has been turned into business opportunities for the politically connected. He was referring to allegations of irregularities in the COVID-19 tender processes involving, among others, Gauteng provincial health official Bandile Masuku and the two sons of African National Congress (ANC) Secretary-General Ace Magashule. These allegations are a massive setback for the country’s integrity and post-pandemic economic landscape, Tutu said in the statement distributed by his foundation. With each allegation, the trust deficit between the state and the people widens, Tutu said.
There will also be widening distrust between citizens and companies which may be enticed to grow the economy, said Tutu. If investors, both local and foreign, can’t be enticed to the post-pandemic reconstruction, the task of reducing systemic inequality while re-building the economy becomes considerably more challenging, he said. A culture of impunity has flourished in the absence of enforcement, said Tutu. Tutu stressed the role of South African citizens, saying this disaster required a whole of society approach, because stopping corruption is a whole of society responsibility. He appealed to the government to hold those within its ranks accountable no matter who they are.
Under growing public pressure, President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday appointed a committee to probe allegations of corruption associated with the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The committee, chaired by Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola, will look into corruption in the procurement of goods and services sourced for the purpose of containing and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Presidency.