Make pub­lic of­fice ap­point­ments openly

Sowetan - - Opinion - Nom­pumelelo Runji ■

“A lack of trans­parency re­sults in dis­trust and a deep sense of in­se­cu­rity”, these words, at­trib­uted to the Dalai Lama, aptly rep­re­sent con­tem­po­rary SA. Al­though trans­parency is built into our sys­tem of checks and bal­ances and var­i­ous in­sti­tu­tions, the re­al­ity is that it is not a value that has been in­ter­nalised as core to our po­lit­i­cal cul­ture. With­out trans­parency, ac­count­abil­ity is a farce. How­ever, it is not enough for trans­parency to be taken as a tick-box ex­er­cise. Trans­parency means much more than the re­quire­ment to de­clare as­sets and per­sonal fi­nan­cial deal­ings done by the ex­ec­u­tive and mem­bers of par­lia­ment as re­quired by var­i­ous ethics codes of con­duct. Trans­parency should be a pub­lic virtue em­bed­ded into char­ac­ters of those who aspire to at­tain po­si­tions of lead­er­ship. Un­for­tu­nately, this virtue is sorely lack­ing. It has taken the per­sis­tence and vig­i­lance on the part of the me­dia to bring the du­plic­ity of of­fi­cials and elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives to the fore. The me­dia has safe­guarded and cham­pi­oned the cause of trans­parency - not­with­stand­ing some of the lapses in judge­ment that have led some ti­tles to fall prey to ne­far­i­ous agen­das. In the big­ger scheme of things, the work of jour­nal­ists has been in­valu­able.

For this rea­son so­ci­ety should not al­low politi­cians to dic­tate to us how we should en­gage with those rev­e­la­tions that draw the cur­tain on their sor­did in­ter­ests and deeds.

It is not for the likes of the EFF to dic­tate to jour­nal­ists what sto­ries they should or should not pur­sue.

As crit­i­cal think­ing ci­ti­zens we ought to scru­ti­nise the mo­tives of politi­cians who in­volve the me­dia to drive cam­paigns against po­lit­i­cal ri­vals but cry foul when they are placed un­der the mi­cro­scope. The feud be­tween Julius Malema and the me­dia is a les­son that the me­dia should avoid giv­ing an in­di­vid­ual so much at­ten­tion and in­flu­ence that they be­gin to think they are above scru­tiny. It is nei­ther here nor there that the me­dia is pur­su­ing sto­ries re­lat­ing to Malema’s and Floyd Shivambu’s al­leged cul­pa­bil­ity in the VBS loot­ing but mov­ing slowly in in­ves­ti­gat­ing their claims against Pravin Gord­han and his daugh­ter. That does not make the facts com­ing to light about the EFF lead­ers any less con­seque ntial.

‘ ‘ Democ­racy re­quires ac­count­abil­ity, and re­quires trans­parency

The EFF needs to take trans­parency more se­ri­ously than merely de­mand­ing for ANC mem­bers that con­tested for po­si­tions at the ANC ’s elec­tive con­fer­ence in Nas­rec to dis­close their sources of cam­paign fund­ing. The me­dia should con­tinue to cast the spot­light on cor­rup­tion, malfea­sance and dis­re­gard of ethics by any politi­cians.

In the same vein, pub­lic fig­ures should be com­mit­ted enough to the val­ues of trans­parency that they wel­come scru­tiny. Any­thing less is hypocrisy ex­posed by ci­ti­zens. Rev­e­la­tions of the rot in our state in­sti­tu­tions at the state cap­ture in­quiry has made the need to hold politi­cians to ac­count more ur­gent.

For a sus­tain­able democ­racy, trans­parency must be the first cri­te­ria to qual­ify for pub­lic of­fice. Barack Obama stated in his first term as US pres­i­dent, “Democ­racy re­quires ac­count­abil­ity, and ac­count­abil­ity re­quires trans­parency”.

Com­ment on Twit­ter @Nom­pumeleloRunji

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