Lessons learned from tackling corruption

Friday, October 20, 2017

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa says one of the lessons government has learned as it tackles corruption is that the management of State-owned enterprises (SOEs) should be the job of experienced professionals.

The Deputy President was answering questions in the National Assembly on Thursday.

African National Congress (ANC) Member of Parliament (MP) Daphne Rantho had asked what lessons government has drawn from its work in tackling corruption.

Addressing the House, the Deputy President said corruption at SOEs is one of the most serious challenges with regards to effecting governance. He said corruption constrains development and economic growth.

“In addition to the theft of public resources on a massive scale, corrupt practices undermine the ability of State institutions to meet their important development and economic mandates.

“As more information becomes available in the public domain on the depth and extent of corruption at such entities, there are several lessons that government and the broader society must draw. The first of these is that SOEs need to be managed by skilled and experienced professionals, who are committed only to the well-being of the institution and the fulfilment in development and economic management.”

While government is responsible for determining the mandate of these entities and holding them to account, neither elected officials nor public servants should be involved in the management of these entities.

“Now I have found that the best way of managing enterprises is that your members of the board should just focus on oversight and strategic overview and never, ever get involved in management issues, particularly in procurement issues.

“If we can heed this lesson in our SOEs, where there is a clear separation of tasks, where board members - from the chairperson, right to the other board members - should never interfere in the management of these and this should also include elected public officials like politicians,” he said.

The appointment of SOE boards needs to be done on a more rigorous, consistent and transparent basis. Before board members are appointed, government should conduct its own thorough due diligence on board member candidates.  

“To this end, Cabinet has adopted a guide for the appointment of SOE boards and executive officers that should set a new standard across all SOEs. It is critical that this guide be applied for all appointments going forward,” said Deputy President Ramaphosa.

The allegations of corruption that have surfaced over the last few months underline the critical importance of building “credible and capable law enforcement agencies”, the Deputy President said.

“The criminal justice system needs to have the skills, resources and effective leadership, but more importantly, the independence that is required to investigate each and every credible claim of corruption and prosecute those that are responsible.”

The Deputy President called for lifestyle audits to be instituted on political leaders and senior   government officials as a matter of urgency.

“If we were to have lifestyle audits right across the board, we should be able to minimise temptations and incidents of corruption. Our efforts to grow the economy are heavily dependent on entities like Eskom, Transnet and Prasa to provide goods and services to citizens and business alike, efficiently and affordably.

“It is therefore essential that we act boldly to root out corruption in all these entities and return them to financial and operational effectiveness,” said Deputy President Ramaphosa. – SAnews.gov.za

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