Prosecuting the corrupt is vital, but will not be enough to end corruption in South Africa, warns the Institute of Race Relations (IRR).

Says Hermann Pretorius, IRR head of strategic communications: ‘Prosecutions are vital to the containment of corruption. But it is a painkiller when surgery is needed.’

The IRR notes in a statement that in the wake of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address last week, Corruption Watch expressed deep concern at persistent corruption and the inefficacy of measures to tackle it.

Pretorius says: ‘Merely prosecuting the corrupt will be insufficient in curbing the widespread corruption plaguing government operations in South Africa. Corruption is symptomatic of deeper systemic issues, primarily the concentration of rigged discretion of cadres, comrades, crooks, and cronies to make decisions on the spending of billions of rands.’

The IRR says it advocates a dual approach to effectively combat corruption.

‘First, it calls for a significant reduction in the amount of money controlled by state officials. The upcoming budget is an opportunity for finance minister Enoch Godongwana to implement measures that leave more money in the hands of citizens through lower taxes. Additionally, the IRR proposes the introduction of means-tested vouchers for healthcare, housing, and education, which would not only empower vulnerable South Africans but also reduce the opportunities for corruption by limiting the funds accessible to corrupt state officials.

‘Second, the IRR calls for the scrapping of the current race-based public procurement and appointment policies. These policies, in direct contravention of the Zondo Report, deliberately fail to make value for money the highest consideration in public spending.’

Pretorius adds: ‘Race-rigged state appointments and procurement processes fuel the fires of corruption. Putting merit above race in appointments will no doubt upset the comrades, cadres, crooks, and cronies who cannot compete for positions on merit. And closing the taps of public funds that funnel obscene amounts of taxpayers’ money to these same corrupt interests will no doubt be opposed by the beneficiaries of a race-rigged system. But this is essential to dismantling the patronage networks that drive corruption and ensuring accountability in state financial dealings.

‘Addressing the root causes of corruption — excessive government control over financial resources and flawed race-rigged procurement and appointment systems — is crucial for achieving genuine accountability and ending the corruption crisis in South Africa. Prosecutions are vital to the containment of corruption. But it is a painkiller when surgery is needed.’