Ministers must crack the whip on corrupt officials

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Cape Town - The chairperson of Parliament's Public Service and Administration Portfolio Committee, Joyce Moloi-Moropa, has sent a stern warning to Cabinet ministers who do not crack down on corruption - saying they will have to face her committee and explain their inaction.

She made this commitment after listening to a presentation by the Public Service Commission (PSC) to the committee on Wednesday.

Called "Trends Relating to Corruption in the Public Service", a report was presented, which was researched and written at the request of the committee. The committee is bent on weeding out public service corruption.

Moloi-Moropa said a big problem in acting against corruption lay with the executive authority. "Often they [ministers] don't implement action quickly enough. We will not hesitate to call them to the committee to explain themselves. We've done this before."

She said that the Minister for Public Service and Administration, Lindiwe Sisulu, was enthusiastic about fighting corruption among civil servants. "She regards this as a major challenge,'' she said.

During the presentation, the PSC said because of South Africa's history, which prevented the black population from accumulating wealth, many people were now relying on the state not only for welfare, but also for access, contracts and patronage.

South Africa's intense poverty, unemployment and systemic structural inequalities were exacerbating the situation; therefore, there was a need to improve ethics.

The PSC 's report found that the development of anti-corruption strategies was uneven in departments. Some provinces only had draft anti-corruption strategies, the promotion of the Code of Conduct for the Public Service was inconsistent, and many officials did not have a copy of this code.

Further to this, most departments had not signed protocols with specialist agencies to assist them with complex syndicated crime and few departments had complied with the regulation in which 100 percent of financial disclosures have to be filed to the PSC by the end of each March. The systematic monitoring of corruption was also poor.

Since the opening of the National Anti-Corruption Hotline - 0800 701701 - in September 2004, a total of 1504 officials were dismissed from the public services, 16 officials were demoted, 341 were given final notices, 202 were prosecuted, while R300 million has been recovered from perpetrators by various departments.

However, financial misconduct was under reported. There has also been a decline in the number of cases, while the cost of financial misconduct has increased.

Owing to an inadequate capacity to chair disciplinary hearings and represent departments, discipline was not being managed effectively.

The PSC said the major challenges for the public services were building leadership that was exemplary, oriented towards the public interest, authoritative, and innovative.

The PSC recommended the promotion of the Code of Conduct, charging Heads of Departments and senior management members with misconduct for failing to declare their conflicts of interest, conducting lifestyle audits and the resolution of allegations of corruption. -