Corruption Watch – another step towards fighting corruption

Combating corruption acquired some serious artillery with the roll-out of Corruption Watch, an independent civil society institute established make it possible for South Africans to report and confront corrupt activity in both the public and private sectors.

The unveiling, held at the Women’s Gaol museum at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg, was attended by a number of government, civil society and business leaders, most notably Jay Naidoo, Mark Haywood, Mary Metcalfe, Njongonkulu Ndungane and public protector Thuli Madonsela, in addition to a significant contingent of news media.

Corruption Watch’s function consists of a newly launched website along with a SMS hotline to obtain reports of corruption, along with a pledge which individuals can sign online to indicate their rejection of corruption.



The internet site is going to be a library of stories coming from the South African public, a safe and secure portal for evidence-based whistle blowing activity, in addition to a resource for information regarding corrupt activities throughout South Africa.

As part of his keynote speech, Cosatu secretary-general Zwelinzima Vavi praised Corruption Watch as being a “critical resolution of Cosatu and civil society” as well as a “dream come true to empower our people”.

We will never be successful in our mission to overcome this fast advancing enemy except in cases where we can effectively mobilise and empower ordinary people, strengthen and build a people-centred developmental state, brought about by honest men and women, and construct independent state institutions that fight against corruption on a daily basis and transform the judiciary and media, he was quoted saying.

The general public can inform Corruption Watch about their experiences and sign the pledge online.

To SMS, send the text “BRIBE” to report corruption or, to sign the pledge, type “PLEDGE” including your first and last names to the number 45142 (the SMS costs R1).

Individuals are also able to discuss it on Facebook and Twitter (@corruption_sa).

Eliminate abuse of power and position

Corruption Watch director David Lewis stated that by gathering, interpreting and acting on information compiled from the public, the media and other sources, the organisation would eventually be in a position uncover the corrupt misuse of public money.

“We have established this organisation make it possible for citizens to report and confront public and private sector individuals abusing their power and position.”

The information gathered by the organisation is going to be utilized to reveal hotspots of corrupt activity throughout the country at municipal, provincial and national level. Where corruption is rife, Corruption Watch is going to seek out partnerships with powerful organs of civil society to effect change.

“We would like to guide the national conversation with regards to corruption from resignation to action,” said Lewis.

The website would be the principal interface between the public and Corruption Watch, however the organisation could also be contacted via SMS, Twitter and Facebook.


Cosatu secretary-general Zwelinzima Vavi

By way of social media, individuals can easily talk about their stories pertaining to all types of corruption, including but not exclusive to bribery, kickbacks and graft; have an impact on peddling and patronage; along with corruption in the work place where they’ve observed or happen to be victims of favouritism, nepotism, ghost workers and illegitimate absenteeism. Individuals will be able to complain of cases of bid-rigging, price-fixing, arbitrage and profiteering, cartels and collusion and tender and procurement irregularities.

The private information of anyone reporting an incident is going to be kept confidential, however the information collected is going to be aggregated, making it possible for Corruption Watch to analyse the data, identify patterns and draw a “heat map” of when and where corruption is going on.

“Information from crowd-sourcing provides a clear understanding of what is occurring on the ground,” said Lewis. “While we {will not|probably won’t|probably will not} be in a position to investigate every single report, the consolidated knowledge of people coming to our site will furnish us with a powerful tool to develop alliances with other institutions and NGOs. Strengthening the scale and voice of civil society will assist South Africans to defeat corruption.”

As a result of some of the aggregated information – and from time to time a personal story signifying an endemic form of corruption – Corruption Watch will initiate research, commission reports and compile a sufficient amount of documentation to refer matters to the appropriate investigative or prosecutorial authority, as well as engage in policy-based advocacy work.

“Our first campaign,” said Lewis, “is requesting individuals to sign a pledge online, or via SMS, refusing to get involved in corruption and, in the event that they are civil servants, committing to treating public resources with respect.”

‘Nowhere to hide’

Justice minister Jeff Radebe likewise took to the podium, decrying corruption as a “cancer” in South African society.

“This cancer of corruption can only be defeated by the concerted initiatives of all South Africans … meaning that the roll-out of Corruption Watch is highly commended,” he stated.


Justice Minister Jeff Radebe and Cosatu’s Zwelinzima Vavi

The minister added the fact that the organisation would certainly assist to transform many South Africans from being passive recipients within a democracy into “important role-players who actively combat corruption”.

“We would at the same time like the media to continue in its determined efforts to expose corruption whenever it rears its ugly head.”

He added: “We are positive that Corruption Watch is going to be an independent unbiased voice and barometer displaying the strides we as a nation are making to fight corruption. Everyone must fully understand that there is nowhere to hide as far as corruption is concerned.”

United front against corruption

Public protector Thuli Madonsela pointed out that the initiative “couldn’t have come at a better time” and that the Public Protector team was honoured to be part of it.

“Many sectors of society can learn a good deal from this development. As a nation we require a united front against corruption and central to this is active citizenship.”

Accountability and transparency are, in addition central to the organisation, she added.

“I’m encouraged by Corruption Watch’s understanding that corruption is a societal problem – it’s not an isolated problem.”

Corruption is additionally rife in the regulatory environment, service delivery, along with the public and private sector, she pointed out.



“It is time that all of us as patriotic South Africans stand together to fight corruption with courage and resilience. We look forward to working with Corruption Watch in taking the process forward when it comes to awareness-raising, protecting and encouraging whistle-blowing and promoting transparency in the government’s legal framework.”

Madonsela called on all sectors of society to throw their weight behind the initiative, adding that actively fighting corruption is needed to alleviate poverty, boost service delivery, and promote safety and justice.

“Each of us carries a responsibility to fight corruption in the public and private sector to make certain that we establish a society where there is public accountability, integrity and responsiveness to all the people of the country.”

Taking action

Financed primarily by donations from charitable foundations, Corruption Watch has been established as a non-profit organisation by Cosatu’s office bearers, who have been receiving progressively more complaints with regards to corruption from its membership along with the general public.

Its board of directors is comprised of Bobby Godsell, Adila Hassim, David Lewis, Mary Metcalfe, Mavuso Msimang, Njongonkulu Ndungane, Kate O’Regan, Zwelinzima Vavi, with Vuyiseka Dubula in the chair.




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