5 February 2012

South Africa: Self-Serving Public Service - Country Needs Anti-Corruption Laws

press release

The latest Auditor General's (AG) report clearly indicates that South Africa is in urgent need of legislation prohibiting inappropriate business dealings between the state and civil servants.

In the last financial year, approximately 191 government officials and 18 close relatives benefitted from state tenders to the value of R113 million. These findings were revealed in the Auditor General's National Audit Outcomes Report for 2010/2011.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will call on Parliament's Public Service committee to summon Public Service Minister Roy Padayachie to account for the lack of progress made with national legislation that emulates the anti-corruption laws pioneered in the Western Cape.

A law regulating the business dealings of public officials was introduced by the DA-led provincial government as early as December 2010. This law can easily serve as a blue-print for new national legislation.

Padayachie is failing to provide clear leadership given that the national legislation to prevent conflicts of interest has been obstructed by the ANC in Parliament for more than a year now.

In August 2011, the Committee for Private Members' Legislative Proposals and Special Petitions rejected a DA legislative proposal which sought to prevent state employees from improperly profiting from government business.

The reason for rejecting this proposal was that similar legislation was pending from national government. At the time, former Public Service Minister, Richard Baloyi, made the empty promise that the legislation would be introduced "within the financial year".

His successor, Padayachie, then failed to answer DA parliamentary questions on the delay in tabling the proposed legislation and when the new deadline would be.

It is clear that there is no apparent political will to pass an anti-corruption law of this kind. Nor was there any valid reason last year to reject the DA's proposed Bill.

The AG's report is just the latest indicator of rampant corruption where the ANC governs. Minister Padayachie must now explain to Parliament why he is failing to introduce a law to ensure that self-interest is not the determining factor in deciding who gets state tenders.

Kobus Marais, Shadow Minister of Public Service and Administration

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