If there is one word that has become part of the everyday vocabulary in South Africa, it is corruption. No longer confined to courtroom arguments, board room discussions or late night conspiracy theories, opinions on corruption in today’s world are shared over family breakfasts, in supermarket queues and around sport fields.
And while corruption is definitely not contained to South Africa, it does seem that this infamous practice have infiltrated our country from the highest office to the most mundane responsibilities. So what to do? Perhaps we could take a few pointers from China where 210 000 officials have just been punished for corruption: “In a statement on Thursday, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) said anti-corruption institutions received 1.31 million complaints and opened 260 000 cases this year. Of that number, “210 000 people have been punished for breaking the code of conduct”, the CCDI said on its website. They include 38 senior officials from ministries and provincial administrations, and more than 1 000 at the prefecture levels, the CCDI said.” (Read more)
The wine industry is also no stranger to corruption. One dark moment in the South African wine industry was when, in 2004, one of the leading wine producers were found out for adding flavourants to their Sauvignon Blanc (Read more). Also in 2004, Burgundy’s Chanson scandal (Read more) made headlines. And according to Wine Spectator, it was the prosecutor in this case, Jean-Claude Dumarets, that summarized the situation for the courtroom: “Unfortunately for Burgundy and France, this is not the trial of the century. Unfortunately, there were trials like this before, and others will follow. This is not a unique case.”
And he was right. “For as long as wine has been made, wine has been manipulated, adulterated, and counterfeited. In ancient Rome, Pliny the Elder complained about the abundance of fraudulent Roman wine which was so great that even the nobility could not be assured that the wine they were pouring on their table was genuine. For the poor and middle class of Rome, local bar establishments seemed to have an unlimited supply of the prestigious Falernian wine for unusually low prices. “(Read more)
And while clearly, no system is above corrupt officials, at least South Africa has a very strict wine certification system as a guarantee of quality and traceability.
“A certification seal is an absolute guarantee to the public that the claims made on the packaging about the wine are true and that the wine was of good quality when it was evaluated by the Wine and Spirit Board for certification. As such, it is very important to wine lovers.
A wine can only be certified when all the requirements of the Wine of Origin Scheme have been met. The Wine and Spirit Board will certify a wine if all the requirements of the Scheme with regard to origin (eg Paarl), cultivar (eg Riesling) and vintage (eg 2014) have been met and the wine has also been evaluated by one of the tasting panels of the Board and it did not show any unacceptable quality characteristics as listed below. Samples of all wines which are submitted for certification are also scientifically analysed to determine whether all the legal requirements have been met.
If a claim is to be made on origin, cultivar or vintage, a wine has to be certified. A certification seal is put on the packaging of such wine, confirming that while being evaluated by the Board the wine was of good quality and that any claims made on the label were checked and are truthful.
Strict control is administered when a producer wants to certify a particular wine. Through an identification number on each certification seal, all information, from the pressing of the grapes, through the wine making process, to the certification of the final product, can be established. Control is exercised at the following stages: when an application is made to press grapes, during pressing, blending and bottling, and also when the preliminary and final approval is given.” (Read more)
- End impunity “Effective law enforcement is essential to ensure the corrupt are punished and break the cycle of impunity, or freedom from punishment or loss.”
- Reform public administration and finance management “Reforms focussing on improving financial management and strengthening the role of auditing agencies have in many countries achieved greater impact than public sector reforms on curbing corruption.”
- Promote transparency and access to information
- Empower citizens “Strengthening citizens demand for anti-corruption and empowering them to hold government accountable is a sustainable approach that helps to build mutual trust between citizens and government.”
- Close international loopholes “Without access to the international financial system, corrupt public officials throughout the world would not be able to launder and hide the proceeds of looted state assets.