LSSA calls for higher standard of ethics and accountability for public officials

March 1st, 2018

By Nomfundo Manyathi-Jele

On the eve of the resignation of former President Jacob Zuma on 14 February, the Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) welcomed the decision by the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the African National Congress to recall President Zuma amid all the allegations of corruption related to the imminent reinstatement of the ‘spy tapes’ criminal charges, and the allegations around complicity in state capture.

In a press statement, LSSA Co-chairpersons Walid Brown and David Bekker said: ‘As the legal professionals of this country we believe that the time has come for public officials to hold themselves to a higher standard of ethics and accountability. For far too long our public officials have hidden behind the statements of “innocent until proven guilty” and “I have not been found guilty of anything”.’

‘This should not be our standard of accountability. Instead our officials should be prepared to step down and offer to resign at the mere suggestion of impropriety on their parts, in an effort at clearing their names without tainting the department or capacity in which they are employed.’

They added: ‘It is only by raising these ethical standards that we will be successful at rooting out the corruption that has taken root within our state entities. Failing which, all we will be doing is changing the names of officials and elected leaders.’

Nomfundo Manyathi-Jele, Communications Officer, Law Society of South Africa,

This article was first published in De Rebus in 2018 (March) DR 17.