East London — Eastern Cape Premier Noxolo Kiviet says the dismissal of two senior managers from her office is just the beginning of her government's zero tolerance policy towards fraud.
Addressing delegates at an international fraud awareness workshop held in East London on Thursday, Kiviet said the new policy approved by the Executive Committee (Exco) will go a long way in reducing the R3 billion lost due to fraud annually in the province.
"The dismissal of the managers in my office is just the beginning. Rest assured - anyone found guilty of fraud and corruption in government will suffer the same fate," said Kiviet.
She said in drawing up the policy, the Office of the Premier had prioritised the assessment of fraud risks in all departments.
"During the review of the Provincial Fraud Prevention Plan, a fraud profile for each department was compiled in order to focus attention on problematic areas. This initiative is not in isolation, but is part of the bigger responsibility of government to curb fraud and its bigger twin, corruption," said Kiviet.
She said to enhance existing control systems aimed at preventing fraud, the practice of government officials trading with the state would have to come to an end.
Kiviet added, however, that fraud was not unique to government and that it had to be addressed at a societal level as well.
"Fraud in the public sector is a symptom of a wider problem that is overwhelming our society... we know those who are doing it. We need to expose them and make sure that they are dealt with," said Kiviet.
Provincial Planning and Treasury MEC Phumulo Masualle said the global crisis of financial constraints was partly to blame for the increase in corruption.
"Given the economic recessions experienced globally, intense pressures have led to an even greater increase in fraud levels. Fraudulent activities committed in government result in fiscal resources being diverted from key service delivery priorities in the province," said Masualle.
He said government wanted to ensure that "every voted cent is spent appropriately on service delivery in the province" and that as a result, the province had become a supporter of Fraud Awareness Week and had decided to host the workshop.
National Treasury's head of Specialised Audit Services Zanele Mxunyelwa said the Eastern Cape needed to address greed to combat the problem.
She added that people should stop encouraging fraud by offering government employees bribes for jobs and tenders.
"It's wrong and puts both parties at risk of going to jail for five years. Government employees must resist temptation or suffer the consequences," said Mxunyelwa.