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Integrity Idol South Africa-Nelson Mandela Foundation

Categories: HEADLINES, Civil Action/Philanthropy, Advocacy
"Naming and faming is so much more useful than naming and shaming,” said Jean Scrimgeour, Strategy and Operations Manager at Accountability Lab, as she proudly announced the launch of Integrity Idol in South Africa, the sixth country to participate in the initiative. Accountability Lab is running the campaign in partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation, LifeCo UnLtd and the Democracy Works Foundation.

Integrity Idol South Africa, an initiative to recognise civil servants who continuously show integrity through their actions, was launched at Constitution Hill in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, on Tuesday 16 January 2018.

The initiative aims to inspire a national movement to honour, encourage and connect honest civil servants. It’s a move away from “naming and shaming” corrupt leaders towards “naming and faming” those bureaucrats who work with integrity and do the right thing, even when no one is watching.

In a panel discussion facilitated by Nelson Mandela Foundation media analyst Lunga Nene, the Foundation’s Chief Executive, Sello Hatang, said public service is something that we all should aspire to help improve. He said this kind of initiative allows us to celebrate those who don’t buckle under the pressure of power to take part in corrupt activities.

If Integrity Idol can do anything, Hatang said, it’s to encourage each person to find the Madiba in themselves. “Integrity Idol is about finding that municipal manager in some small-town municipality in the North West who says, ‘I’m not going to buckle to just give you the tender because so-and-so is in charge.’”

Democracy Works Foundation associate Thandi Matthews said South Africans are losing faith in our democracy and the Constitution because of the high levels of inequality and unemployment in the country. She said we need to focus on health, education, safety, security and strengthening our criminal justice system, and recognise the value that ordinary people add to our democracy.

“I think it’s important that we don’t only highlight the gaps in our democracy, and the fact that we have poor leadership at times, but that there are also ordinary people working in our administration, at the coalface of service delivery, who ought to be celebrated. They go to work every day, and they have to deal with all of the negativity and the negative reinforcement,” she said.

Said Scrimgeour: “Often as South Africans we feel we can’t do anything because ‘I’m not a lawyer or I’m not a judge or because I don’t have lots of money’, and I think this [Integrity Idol] is something really positive, really low-key. You don’t have to have any money to do it, and you don’t need to be powerful or rich or be some kind of massive mover and shaker to find a person who makes a difference in your community.”

LifeCo CEO Pat Pillai said South Africa needs positive role models and believes that recognising civil servants when they do good work will have a knock-on effect as they deal with the public. “No nation can thrive without integrity.”

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