Despite corruption continuing to impede effective service delivery, the South African government has made significant strides in an effort to curb the scourge, Public Service and Administration Director General Richard Levin said on Monday.
Levin made the remarks at the commemoration of International Anti-Corruption Day at the University of South Africa (UNISA). The event was organised by the Public Service Commission in conjunction with the United Nation South Africa and UNISA.
Among the guest speakers were UNISA vice-chancellor Mandla Makhanya, National Anti-Corruption Task Team chairperson and Hawks head Godfrey Lebeya, Special Investigating Unit head Andy Mothibi and Nomusa Mokhatla, the Asset Forfeiture Unit head.
Exploring the “United against corruption: working together to enhance an environment where the rule of law prevails” theme, several speakers took turns to voice the successes and challenges that needed to be overcome to prevail over the phenomenon.
“The South African government acknowledges that the country faces levels of corruption within the public and private sector that are unacceptable. Corruption undermines the rule of law and impedes government’s authority and its efforts to socio-economic development and service delivery efforts. The South African government is committed to preventing and combatting corruption,” said Levin.
He said government has put several programmes in place and has adopted a zero tolerance towards the combatting of corruption.
The National Development Plan envisions plans to eradicate corruption by 2030.
“Over the next few years, South Africa will be in a position to change the international agenda on reducing corruption and to impact on the role played by developing countries in this fight, as it will chair the G20 and the BRICS anti-corruption groups,” Levin said.
The DG said it is critical to focus the fight against corruption in both the private and public sector.
The implementation of the mooted Ethics Integrity Disciplinary and Technical Assistance Unit in the DPSA “is to increase accountability, efficiency and transparency in institutions delivering responsive services to the South African public,” he said.
He said the country has over the years learned many lessons on how to deal with corruption.
“We are in midst of reversing the tide of what is referred to as State capture in the sectors of society. It has become clear to all in society that a new level of ethical leadership is required to promote the Bill of Rights as well as the constitutional principles of good governance to prevent corruption and to progressively realise socio-economic rights.
“Fighting poverty as well as corruption are both critical to ending social inequality in our country. Although a whole lot more needs to be done, a new dawn of optimism is putting South Africa in a position of fighting corruption,” he said.
PSC chairperson Richard Sizani said when dealing with the understanding of corruption, the historical experience of colonialism and globalisation should be taken into account.
“Corruption has often been seen as African and a developing world phenomenon. However, there [has been] acknowledgement that corruption is a trans-border problem. The integrity of political administrative and judicial systems is certain in the construction of a value system.
“Corruption proliferates under conditions where the integrity infrastructure is ineffective and weak. The successful implementation of laws depends on strong leadership to set a vision based on the upholding of values of society,” he said.
Some leaders have a total disregard for the institutions established to enforce and maintain the rule of law. Corruption, he added, has a catastrophic effect on society.
“It stifles economic growth and development and consequently limits any possibility to break the cycle of poverty. The preamble of the United Nations Convention against corruption poses serious threats to the stability and security of societies and undermines the institutions of democracy, ethical values and justice,” he said.
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane said whistle-blowers played a vital role in the fight against corruption.
“I cannot overemphasise the pivotal role that whistle-blowers play in the war on corruption. Indeed they are all we have and the real test of our seriousness about rooting corruption lies in how we treat them,” she said.
“I wish to implore decision makers across the public administration to take note of all of our reports wherein the cost of whistleblowing is laid bare.” – SAnews.gov.za