TV contest for honest civil servants opens in South Africa

By on 15/02/2018
The Union Buildings in Pretoria are the seat of the South African government (Image courtesy: Ossewa).

South Africans are being invited to name the country’s most honest and upstanding civil servants in a reality TV contest, with the winner receiving the title Integrity Idol.

The show, run by global transparency NGO Accountability Lab, aims to bring the pizzazz of a prime-time talent contest for aspiring pop stars to the fight against corruption in public office.

Similar contests, involving thousands of people voting for civil servants, have been mounted in Nigeria, Pakistan, Liberia and Mali since the initiative began in Nepal in 2014.

Integrity Idol South Africa was launched in Johannesburg last month, in partnership with advocacy groups including the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Corruption Watch and the Democracy Works Foundation.

It came as president Jacob Zuma came under growing pressure from African National Congress leader Cyril Ramaphosa to resign, following allegations of corruption that have dogged his nine years in office. Zuma denies the charges.

Positive channel

Saqib Zafar, commissioner for Bahawalpur Division in Punjab Province, won the 2017 Integrity Idol contest in Pakistan (Image courtesy: Accountability Lab).

“We have already received hundreds of nominations across all nine provinces that reflect the incredible diversity, courage and resilience of South Africans,” Accountability Lab founder Blair Glencorse and fellow Faith Pienaar jointly wrote on the News24 website last week.

“Instead of ‘naming and shaming’ corrupt individuals, we are ‘naming and faming’ honest officials. We’re not focusing on the wrong-doers, we’re celebrating the do-gooders… A movement like this can tap into the current frustration around corruption in South Africa and channel it towards positive thoughts and actions.”

The campaign is asking members of the public to nominate an Integrity Idol working for the South African government in the fields of education, health, safety or security by the end of February. Nominees must have at least two years’ experience in public service.

Public vote

Nuzo Eziechi, management officer in the Bureau of Public Enterprise at Abuja, is Nigeria’s Integrity Idol 2017 (Image courtesy: Accountability Lab).

In March, an expert panel will select the top 10 candidates, who will then be filmed doing their jobs by young South African film-makers working with an experienced film professional.

The films will be broadcast on TV and shown on social media platforms during May, when the public will be asked to vote for their favoured candidate via SMS, social media, WhatsApp and online. The Integrity Idol will be crowned at a ceremony in Cape Town on May 20.

The winner of Pakistan’s 2017 contest was announced last week as Bahawalpur commissioner Saqib Zafar, while Nigeria’s 2017 winner was named on 1 February as Nuzo Eziechi, a management officer in the Bureau of Public Enterprise.

About Liz Heron

Liz Heron is a journalist based in London, who specialises in international news. She worked on daily newspapers for 16 years, reporting extensively on both general news and education. She was Education Editor of the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong and has contributed to a wide range of British media including The Independent, The Guardian and the BBC.

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