A campaign by Corruption Watch is calling on young people to commit to taking responsibility for their actions and to stop corruption by publicly announcing “My hands are clean”.
Corruption Watch, a graft-fighting watchdog, says it is urging people to publicly announce their positive stand against corruption and join the organisation’s team of corruption fighters. These people expose corruption where they see it, but are also willing to monitor their own behaviour before holding others to account.
Writing in the organisation’s 2014 annual report, board chairman Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane explained the need to put an end to corruption for the wellbeing of the nation. “The pervasiveness of corruption in our country… is robbing our youth of their rightful inheritance. Corruption is insidious and corrosive, and the damage that it wreaks today will be felt well into the future by those who had no part in it, or at least are relatively free from blame,” he said.
In its campaign, Corruption Watch urges people to participate in a nomination challenge: take a selfie of your hands and nominate your friends to do the same. Using the hashtag #MyHandsAreClean or #MHAC, post your selfies on social media sites Twitter and Facebook, as well as on Google+.
#MyHandsAreClean is a response to the growing awareness of how corruption affects young people, says the organisation.
At the launch of the campaign in February, people spotted taking part online locally included Justice Project SA chairman Howard Dembovsky and Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi.
Dembovsky said: “The moment people stop paying bribes, whether it is to get out of something they did or didn’t do, is the moment they start curbing corruption. If you pay a bribe and you weren’t drinking, the same traffic officer will take a bribe from a drunk driver who, in turn, puts your life in danger on the road.”
Vavi shared a similar sentiment, adding that corruption was at a “worrying” level. “We need to start collaborating at all positions of society because if we freely participate in small corruption, it leads the way to bigger corruption,” said the trade unionist.
The campaign’s social media wall updates in real time the responses from Twitter, Google+ and Facebook, says Corruption Watch. “So far, we’ve received much-appreciated support from, among others, Transparency International chapters in Pakistan, Cambodia, France, Germany and more, Yusuf Abramjee and Crime Line here at home, NGOs, Cosatu, dozens of ordinary people, as well as the departments of Home Affairs, and Arts and Culture.”
INVOLVING THE YOUTH
Corruption Watch believes young people are a major factor in getting the scales to tip in favour of those trying to stop the scourge. “Our youth campaign aims to educate youth about corruption and encourage them to raise their voices and take action against this problem,” it says.
The organisation is no stranger to youth engagement. On 9 December 2014, International Anti-Corruption Day, it released an anti-corruption song, performed by up-and-coming singer Fiesta Black, that has garnered substantial support.
It has also begun engaging with about 30 young leaders regarding their experiences and perceptions of corruption, as well as on finding solutions on how to combat it.
“This diverse group of young leaders, drawn from across South Africa, is made up of chief executive officers, student representative council presidents from universities and colleges, members of debating teams in secondary schools and tertiary education, and youth participants in leadership programmes and community-based organisations. This forum of young leaders will become the face of the Corruption Watch Youth Campaign and will inform our continuing strategy on engaging South Africa’s young people,” explains executive director David Lewis.
“We’re calling on the youth to commit to take responsibility for their own actions, as well as encourage others to come clean with any kind of corruption they may have committed.”
— Farah (@CynicalJoyy) March 6, 2015
Corruption Watch has also tackled corruption in the driving licence sector by teaming up with FunDza Literacy Trust to publish a seven-chapter short story about corruption in the sector affecting the youth.
The drama, called Licensed to Lie, is available on the group’s website and on the Mxit app. By allowing young people to identify with the characters, the story teaches them about how to identify and resist corruption when they apply for their driving licences. There are two more stories scheduled for the first half of this year, highlighting corruption in the police and education sectors.