OP-ED: We all have a role to play in building an ethical sociey as an antidote to corruption

2020-09-04 03:35:00 PM

OP-ED: We all have a role to play in building an ethical sociey as an antidote to corruption

Covid-19, Covid-19 Corruption

OP-ED: We all have a role to play in building an ethical sociey as an antidote to corruption

The South African Council of Churches is among a group of civil society organisations that have demanded action against those implicated in Covid-19 corruption. This is a message delivered on Friday to the congregation of the Claremont Main Road Mosque: 'Every citizen and every faith community has a role to play.'

Today, we are an angry nation. Since all the recent revelations about Covid-19 corruption, the country has become more and more angry. The news of how some ANC bigwigs, and their relatives and friends have been enriching themselves at the expense of millions who go to bed hungry has caused outrage. It is obscene and a deep offence to our creator. Those who have siphoned off money for personal protective equipment (PPE) and food, which was meant to prevent starvation and save lives, are thieves and murderers, motivated only by greed.

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Save When you hear the word corruption, what thoughts come to mind? What feelings come into your heart? What impact does corruption have on how you pray? According to Transparency International, corruption is the abuse of entrusted power for personal gain.Save In a few short but seemingly endless months, an infinitesimal and invisible force has brought even the wealthiest and most resourced countries to their knees.Save Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa’s walking president, set tongues wagging when he first took office thanks to his habit of taking a brisk morning walk.Save Purely by chance, the first unit at the Medupi coal-fired power station came on line in 2015, the same year that wind and solar from the renewable energy independent producers procurement programme (REIPPPP) bid window 1 came on line.

Archbishop Thabo Maklouba used simpler language in his recent message to the President when he spoke of thievery and hypocrisy. Today, we are an angry nation. The human toll has already been devastating and, in the few minutes it takes to read this article, Covid-19 will almost certainly claim more lives, particularly the lives of the most vulnerable. Since all the recent revelations about Covid-19 corruption, the country has become more and more angry. (Photo by Gallo Images / Brenton Geach) President Cyril Ramaphosa during his early morning walk on February 07, 2018 in Cape Town, South Africa. The news of how some ANC bigwigs, and their relatives and friends have been enriching themselves at the expense of millions who go to bed hungry has caused outrage. If only we had prioritised public health, we might have been able to stop this epidemic in its tracks. It is obscene and a deep offence to our creator. Had the REIPPPP proceeded as originally intended, projects from bid window 6 would now be approaching full commercial operation, and we would be expecting bid window 7 projects to be completed in 2021, with bid window 8 preferred bidders already declared.

Those who have siphoned off money for personal protective equipment (PPE) and food, which was meant to prevent starvation and save lives, are thieves and murderers, motivated only by greed. Yet, many simply did not have the means to do so. In other parts of the world, French President Emmanuel Macron and Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen can take a bike ride through Copenhagen without much ado, or Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn can cycle undisturbed in Lucerne, Switzerland, or Icelandic Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir can stroll, unaccompanied by a security detail, to her office. How long will it be before the perpetrators are tried and found guilty, and sent to prison and the monies recovered? We know from our holy texts and from history books that corruption is not new in the human family. Here in the Cape, we have the history of slavery. Such rapid, co-ordinated action at scale would have made an enormous difference in stopping the virus early, and it would have saved many lives. Slavery was a legalised form of corruption. In a healthy society, bumping into a president, an MP or the CEO of a global multinational should not be a newsworthy event. Power was used to enable the few to be enriched at the expense of the many. In the US, for example, this calamity can be directly attributed to the failure to invest in what it takes to safeguard its people. The 2020 capital cost to date, of about R160-billion, comes directly from Eskom, who promptly supplied the information on request.

Apartheid was there to enable the few to get rich on the basis of colour. Again, it was legalised corruption. But a report in 2017 noted that public health represented only 2. Separate, but not equal Much of our current situation is attributable to the apartheid-era planning approach, although it must be said that, in recent years, unchecked crime and the associated fear of hijackings and home invasions have buoyed the development of estates and walled communities. Hundreds of unjust laws applied only to people of colour. These were bad laws that were also immoral. With the advent of Covid-19, this disinvestment in public health has proven to be a serious liability, with profound repercussions and deadly consequences. Corruption was the order of the day. This is, of course, ironic given that the vast majority of South Africans are walkers and should be accommodated. Table 1.

The moral order was inverted. Investment in putting in place the foundations on which epidemic preparedness and response must rest is often not sufficiently recognised. Good was called bad and bad was called good. And yet, through the centuries, countless South Africans, known and unknown, women and men, lived moral lives and were not in any way corrupt. In the absence of a raging epidemic like Covid-19, this bulwark against such threats is rapidly forgotten. Under former Johannesburg mayor Parks Tau, and subsequently under the Democratic Alliance-led administration, upgrades were affected to streets and parks in Soweto and several inner city precincts. Many laid down their lives in the sure belief that one day there would be peace and justice for all. To join the liberation struggle was to know that it might cost you your life. From putting in place systems for the collection of data on health outcomes, researching disease and injury prevention, and detecting, preventing and responding to infectious and non-communicable diseases, public health puts science and data to work at the community level. Cumulative capex spend is estimated, but locked in to 2020 cost data as supplied by Eskom.

We joined anyway. As a result, there is no active citizenry demanding better amenities and a more intelligent use of community space. We were people of every faith and included atheists, and agnostics, united in our common humanity and our dreams of a more humane world. For example, for each 10% increase in local public health spending in the US, infant deaths decrease 6. However, we would be romanticising the past if we did not acknowledge that within our ranks, there were also murderers and thieves. The birth of democracy brought its own temptations.2%, diabetes deaths decrease 1. What is so desperately needed is greater interaction between professionals and government, and ongoing consultation with communities to understand how to breathe life into our cities. Some who were scoundrels before continued to be scoundrels after. This reflects the building up of coal stockpiles, and may well have also included take-or-pay coal purchase penalties, as the startup of the first unit was well behind the contracted coal delivery schedule.

Some, once were warriors, but sold their souls on the altar of greed and corruption.1%. At the dawn of democracy, our own intelligence agency told government that the greatest threat to peace in South Africa was not military but poverty, unemployment and inequality. We, as architects, have a role to play, but we cannot do this alone. So, what did we do, we stopped the RDP (the Reconstruction and Development Programme) and instead, we bought arms that we did not, do not and will not ever use. These committed staff need to work for at least six hours in full PPE without being able to drink or go to the bathroom — not an easy physical or mental undertaking. From the beginning, the arms deal was mired in bribery and corruption See the Livestream here of Father Lapsley’s message:    Then there was State Capture, but still no convictions in our courts. Fast forward to Covid-19. A recent study showed that three basic public health interventions – scaling up treatment of high blood pressure to 70%, reducing sodium intake by 30% and eliminating the intake of artificial trans fatty acids – could save 94-million lives in 25 years. Coupled to this should be a greater debate and reflection about the type of society we hope to see in the future. The result of this is that the electricity output from the first of the generating units is very expensive on a cost per kWh basis; it has to shoulder the full capital cost of the shared balance of plant infrastructure on its own.

The money that was supposed to save lives and feed the starving was siphoned off and there was a feeding frenzy for “comrades”. With a State of National Disaster, our National Treasury removed more of the checks and balances that were already insufficient and provided an enabling environment to the looters. For example, reducing sodium intake by 15% has been estimated to cost less than $0. In the midst of our anger, it is easy to be self-righteous. It means that, in a social transition tied to technology, we look at greater investments in data connectivity and its availability at a community level. As President Cyril Ramaphosa has said in the dock of corruption, the ANC is accused No 1, but it is not alone. But when an epidemic threatens, the dividends paid by a strong public health system investment skyrocket. Even at grassroots level, there were instances of fraud and corruption with those who put more food parcels aside for their own family than they gave to others.5GW of solar PV and 3GW of wind will need to be added each year during 2021 and 2022.

I recently heard about a woman who sold her house and gave the money to a bogus estate agent to buy another, and is now homeless. And when an infectious disease does spread widely, public health provides the tools to identify the epidemic and monitor it, as well as the means for reaching into communities. While it’s easy to consider the digital reality for institutions such as private schools, which can certainly teach remotely, this is much more of a challenge in poorer communities and townships. Another friend enrolled for an entrepreneur training programme with a monthly stipend from SETA via an NGO. When the stipend was not forthcoming and my friend complained, the NGO tried to intimidate him with a lawyer’s letter. Even as deaths continue to accumulate and health officials scramble to procure masks, oxygen and ventilators, we are beginning to see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. There are two big questions I would like to ask: 1. The psychology of this new world of work will bring with it unique challenges around social interaction. What is the antidote to corruption? 2. Eventually, successful treatments and vaccines for Covid-19 will be developed. Annual output for PV and wind from 2015 to 2020 as per the first four REIPPPP bid windows.

How do we teach ethical behaviour? These questions are not just for us, as people of faith. They are not just for South Africans. At the same time, we must remain cognisant of the cost of these measures. This highlights the importance of reactivating our streets, breathing new life into our underutilised high streets and working to make isolated shopping malls more interactive. They are questions for humanity. We should not underestimate the role of conscience, that little voice that tells us what is right and what is wrong, the voice that became louder during the silent months of lockdown. For those with limited resources, population restrictions come at a high price. I have no doubt that if we see Ramaphosa rapidly moving from verbalism to action in the fight against corruption, he will find the nation once more swinging behind him. A prime example is how everyone from joggers to dog walkers has taken back the streets since Level 5 lockdown ended, creating a place of interaction and exercise both in the urban centres and the suburbs. In the case of solar PV and wind, annual pricing is as per each of the bid windows, with the tariff shown reflecting the average cost in that year.

One of the greatest bulwarks against corruption are people with moral integrity. The good news is that as the pandemic evolves, we are seeing a new appreciation of public health. Those without integrity will, as they have done hitherto, continue to hollow out key state institutions. As faith communities, what are we doing to help young people develop good morals and compassion for others? As my friend Nora Ramsden says: “We learn empathy, cooperation, responsibility and ethical behaviour” in our homes, long before we go to “big” school. In addition, the current crisis has made evident that epidemics know no borders. Just consider that, after the end of the Spanish flu pandemic in 1920, the world erupted into a veritable party scene. We learn through play-acting with adults as well as other children and through stories and so on… Education through play. When it comes to moral integrity, our children will not look at what we say but at how we live our lives. People are coming to understand what epidemiology can contribute, how case-finding and contact tracing works, and the importance of paying attention to the evolution of the epidemic in their communities, as well as how various control measures are working or not working. Table 2.

And Barbara Schreiner says: “Recognise, celebrate and value those who are not corrupt; punish those who are corrupt starting from the highest not the small fry. You only need to read F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby to taste the urge for frivolity and fun and human interaction that permeated that time.” The Scorpions were disbanded, not because they were ineffective but precisely because they were becoming more effective every day. When we emerge from this crisis, let the memory of people banging their pots, blowing their horns and applauding from their windows for healthcare workers inspire us to invest seriously in public health – for the sake of our generation and generations to come. There have to be more checks and balances to prevent corruption. Key issues are independence of law enforcement agencies, transparency, accountability and ongoing vetting for moral integrity. El-Sadr, MD, MPH, MPA, is founder and director of ICAP, a global health centre based at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health working extensively in sub-Saharan Africa, and a professor of epidemiology and medicine. This process will require better social spaces and parks and the opening up of our streets. Should we not, as faith communities, on important days, welcome and honour whistleblowers? It seems that the more people are seduced by the idols of wealth, status and power, the more they lose empathy and compassion. The large additions of PV and wind in 2021 and 2022, required to match the output from Medupi by 2022, have a far lower PPA price tag.

So, part of the antidote to corruption has to include, as my friend Horst Kleinschmidt, asserts: “Equality across our society. Daily Maverick. And for government to become serious about equal education. The company has won numerous awards and accolades, and is presently engaged in designing and overseeing the construction of The Leonardo tower in Sandton, which will soon be the tallest building in Africa.” Which societies in the world are the least corrupt? Denmark and Sweden compete to be number one. I asked a South African friend living in Denmark why he thought Denmark was doing so well in relation to corruption. He spoke of the level of equality and how those who are more well off do not flaunt their wealth because their sense of self-worth does not come from what they have, but who they are. In the case of wind, the tariffs used were R0.

He also spoke about how the weakest are treated and included, especially those with disabilities, and he spoke of a democracy where there is space for all voices. The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation has been spearheading and also supporting the Active Citizen’s Movement’s Orange Mask Campaign. Let us also support this campaign to help mobilise the nation to fight corruption everywhere. Dr Frank Chikane has also said that the campaign against corruption must engage every town, village, street and household. But let me add a cautionary note. By 2022, Medupi will have stabilised at R1.

While we need to mobilise every citizen and every faith community to be against corruption, we need to have our eyes wide open. There is a verse in the Christian Scriptures that says: “the children of darkness are often shrewder in their time than the children of light.” Claremont mosque statement against corruption   In the face of mounting national anger, there will be populist figures who will seek power appealing to our deepest fears and prejudices, and not for the common good of all people. We have witnessed this recently across the world, with the rise of authoritarian leaders full of populist rhetoric, pandering to the shadow side of people. During my years in the liberation struggle, I learnt that it was important to keep asking the two questions: 1. However, coal price increases have tended to exceed CPI, exposing Medupi to additional cost increase risk as compared to the envisaged PV and wind fleets.

What are we against? 2. What are we for? As time passes, we will need to keep reframing these questions. So yes, we are against corruption. We want to see corrupt leaders wearing orange jumpsuits sooner rather than later. We are for transparency, for accountability for integrity, for ourselves, for our leaders in politics, in the private sector and within the faith community. Actual R/kWh for wind and solar PV up to 2019, estimated for 2020 to 2022.

We want more and more equality. We demand an end to violence by men against women and violence against children. We want to be able to live lives of dignity. We demand leaders who are trustworthy. We want to live in harmony with Mother Earth. For example, greater cognisance of full system costs and requirements could be factored in, resulting in enhanced overall value.

We need food sovereignty. We need ubuntu economics. What is the world of your dreams, for yourself and your children, and for generations to come? As a person of faith, I like to ask the question, what is God’s dream for us as God’s children? How can I participate in God’s dream? What is our answer as the children of Abraham as Muslims, Christians and Jews… with people of other faith together with those who are not at all religious? If what we claim to be from God is characterised by fear and hatred, it is probably not from Allah, but a projection of ourselves. The prayer I make most often for myself is for wisdom and courage. I have the same prayer for each of you. As wind and solar make up more and more of the future generation, it will become necessary to ensure that additional flexible generation is constructed in tandem.

Let us have the conversation about corruption, about how to build an ethical society; about God’s dream for us all. Let us have that conversation in the mosque, in our places of worship, in our workplaces, in our families, in our hearts. Let it be part of what we share with Allah in our prayers today and everyday. May we have ears to hear what God requires of us. And it will be: Inshallah . DM Clyde Mallinson is a geologist who has previously lectured on Earth history.

DM Father Michael Lapsley is an Anglican priest, social justice activist and founder of the Institute for Healing of Memories. He is a former Vice-president of the South African Council of Churches. His address was livestreamed on the Claremont Main Road mosque’s social media platforms on 4 September 2020 at 1pm. .