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The NWU Business School is taking a stand against corruption

by Bertie Jacobs
The facts are irrefutable: South Africa is a country rife with corruption that is undermining our democratically elected institutions and hampering our economic growth. Corruption is not a disease in this country, it is a pandemic. But, for every disease there is a possible cure and pandemics can be curtailed. The North-West University (NWU) Business School, through its Unit for Corruption and Integrity Studies (UCIS), is endeavouring to inject some sense where sensibility has been lost.

First, let us look at the disheartening statistics. In January, Transparency International released its 2023 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), which saw South Africa drop a further two points since 2022 on the index that measures perceptions of public sector corruption. The CPI makes use of a variety of independent data sources and scores 180 countries globally. The higher the score, the better. South Africa sits at 41 – its lowest score ever and a damning indictment of corruption’s grip on the country.

The situation has evoked the ire of many, including that of Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, who said that: “Corruption has wounded our democracy and shaken people’s faith in our institutions. If corruption is not arrested, the greatest damage will not be in the funds stolen, the jobs lost or the services not delivered. The greatest damage will be to the belief in democracy itself.”

This cannot be allowed to happen, and the NWU Business School – which is guided by the pursuit to be impactful nationally as well as on the continent – believes that it has an obligation to use the expertise at its disposal to address issues such as corruption.

“The scourge of corruption, or the overreach of power for personal profit, is found in every country and region, the public and private sector. It inhibits economic growth and development, debilitates democratic institutions, increases inequality, and produces uncertainty and instability. Addressing corruption and its related crimes is not only a police or legal problem. It is a complex phenomenon that requires innovative and holistic solutions. In particular, the use of technology and the enhancement of strategic leadership in the management of complex financial crime investigations require attention. The NWU Business School, through its Unit for Corruption and Integrity Studies, wants to differentiate itself as a respected contributor to the enhancement of our collective prowess to combat corruption and related failures in integrity by means of a distinctive commitment to cultivating business leaders with integrity and exceptional principles of governance, and to instil the values of integrity, honesty and ethical conduct in all positions of responsibility,” explains Albert van Zyl, senior lecturer and course leader at the unit.

According to him, the overriding focus of the UCIS is to move beyond pointing fingers towards understanding the weaknesses that makes entities vulnerable to corruption and to assist with identifying practical, sustainable solutions to combat corruption and related improprieties.

“At the UCIS, we aim to achieve this through targeted leadership development. This is done by means of the enriched content of our MBA programme, our executive education programmes relating to the combating of financial crime, and work-integrated learning programmes at law enforcement agencies and regulatory bodies, among other places. We also focus on relevant research, the rendering of thought leadership, and the establishment of influential platforms and networks, such as co-hosting the South African Financial Crime Symposium,” says Van Zyl.

In April, the Daily Maverick reported that over 500 government officials and nearly 800 private sector individuals had been convicted of corruption-related offences since 2019. The National Prosecuting Authority is showing signs of renewed vigour in its fight against corruption, and it is going to need every possible ally if the battle is to be won in the long run. The NWU Business School and its Unit for Corruption and Integrity Studies is already building barricades to stem the tide of corruption.

Useful resources:
NWU Business School
At the NWU Business School, we strive to change the way our students think about business. We want our students to become managers/leaders in their own right.
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