Money and Morality 2006 Transformation audit
Editor: Sue Brown
South Africans are struggling to characterise the times we are living through.
Is this a time of deepening grievance, of political patronage and plunder - or a season of hope and previously unimaginable opportunity for most?
The 2006 Transformation Audit - Money and Morality is the third in a new series published by the Institute of Justice and Reconciliation. The series reviews the ways in which South Africa's changing economic system affects our political and social landscape.
Here we focus on accountability, corruption and its costs. Corruption is defined broadly to include legal corruption, which incorporates mismanagement, collusion, inertia and neglect, as well as the more usual abuses of public office for private gain.
Costs are by no means counted only in services or investments which do not arrive. Public and civil institutions can be weakened in their operation and in public esteem.
Toward the end of 2005, a theme of popular grievance was already emerging despite the marked economic upswing and job creation, and public division intensified even before the markets faltered by mid-2006.
Bitter and often violent anger, echoing 1980s activist methods, was directed against local government representatives countrywide, generally where councilors were seen to be corrupt or arrogant. Organised labour, too, demonstrated violent bitterness.
This is a period of increasingly vicious political contestation and widening black inequality. Add to this an increasingly widespread perception of officials as arrogant or corrupt. Does this threaten the South African social contract of reconciliation and rule of law?
"I think it's very important in society that we have organisations like this who can be independent, who can be objective and who can raise the really tough questions and help us find solutions going forward." - Maria Ramos