On Sunday, the City Press reported that, in a 2009 National Prosecuting Authority report, President Jacob Zuma stated that “corruption is a Western paradigm” Zuma was using this as a justification for why charges of corruption against him relating to the arms deal should be dropped. He also said that even if corruption were a crime, it was one with “no victims.” AAISHA DADI PATEL asked Jo’burgers what they make of this.
Felix Miller*, 20, student, Johannesburg
It’s interesting that he says corruption is a ‘Western thing’ when we’ve seen it in other African states; corruption is a global thing. I find it very interesting that the National Prosecuting Authority dropped charges on such a frivolous 88 page document. He says that cronyism should be legalised – for who? I just find everything baseless and it shows that in South Africa, it’s about who you know when you want to get certain things done. And we’ve clearly seen it in this case.
Anne Mapule*, 38, public servant, Johannesburg
You can’t say that just because in the olden days it was accepted, it excuses the fact that corruption is wrong. It is a crime. Money has been taken away from the poor. As a person in public office he should have been conscious of the fact that he was taking from somebody. He’s wrong and he’s crazy!
Dino Sardianos, 21, politics student, Johannesburg
He’s trying to say Western people used systems like exploitation and indoctrination, which led to corruption and that after independence, notions like self-entitlement – the idea that I fought for freedom and now it’s time for me to gain back – kind of stuck. But if we allow cronyism and corruption, how reliable is democracy, and how trustworthy is our government?
Siyanda Mpanza, 35, Johannesburg
Corruption in this case is referring to commercial crime which Schabir Shaik here in South Africa, under South African law, was charged for. The notion that it is a ‘western paradigm’ is intellectually uninformed. Zuma should have just argued that even the Apartheid regime was corrupt, like the payments made to George Matanzima in that time and to many others, including Buthelezi and his party. A layman could use that to justify himself, so why not the president? The claim that there is no victim in corruption is a joke. State funds are involved here and with service delivery as a priority for government, that makes citizens victims of corruption because it involves state funds. If it was a private entity, it would be different. But for me, Zuma’s statement is factually unfounded.
Nadeem Mahomed, 21, accounting student, Northcliff
The notion that corruption is only a crime in the Western world cannot be relevant in any South African context; it goes against our own Constitution which President Zuma has sworn to protect and uphold. His statements can only be seen as a defense of his actions. To say that there are no victims of corruption is untrue. When public servants commit corruption, they effectively take away from the citizens of South Africa. Corruption eats away at the already-limited resources that government has. President Zuma should know this. It’s worrying that he said such things.
– Voxes have been edited for brevity and clarity
* Name has been changed