9 November 2012

South Africa: National Government Must Emulate Western Cape Anti-Graft Laws

press release

A new report on financial misconduct in the public service confirms the need for national legislation to prevent the potential for corruption when public officials are allowed to do business with the state.

The DA-run Western Cape adopted such legislation in December 2010. This legislation outlines strict guidelines for financial disclosures and prohibits Western Cape government employees and their families from directly or indirectly holding more than 5% of shares, stock, membership or other interests in an entity that does business with the provincial government.

The DA will be tabling national legislation on this matter in Parliament.

The PSC Report on Corruption in the Public Service Commission (PSC) discussed in parliament this week revealed that in the five years to March 2011, the cost of the corrupt activities of public officials has increased seven-fold (from R130.6 million in 2006/7 to R932.28 million in 2010/2011). Financial misconduct cost the state in excess of R1.5 billion over this period.

The Director General (DG) of the Public Service Commission, Prof Richard Levin, confirmed that there was massive overlap between the official responsibilities and private business interests of senior managers in the public service (29% for Public Works, 28% for Transport, 28% for Human Settlements, and 24% in Co-operative Governance) and that this overlap contributed to dubious procurement practices.

This has led to renewed calls for national legislation to regulate the business interests of public officials.

The DA tabled a proposal for national legislation on this matter in parliament last year. Our efforts were thwarted by the ANC-dominated Portfolio Committee on Private Member's Legislative Proposals. A recent judgement of the Constitutional Court, however, found that this Committee has become an obstacle in the exercising of the constitutional rights of members of parliament to introduce legislation. We will utilise our right to introduce legislation directly to portfolio committees to renew our calls for national legislation emulating the Western Cape anti-graft laws.

We hope that this time around the ANC has the political will to do what it can to prevent public funds from being leeched by public servants who clearly have no commitment to serving the South African public.

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