The South African government is to set up an anti-corruption bureau to fast-track disciplinary cases in the public sector, Public Service and Administration Minister Lindiwe Sisulu announced on Thursday.
Speaking at a breakfast media briefing in Cape Town, Sisulu said the bureau would form part of amendments to the Public Service Act, which she expects to come before Parliament in June.
The amendments also include banning all public servants from doing business with the government.
Cutting down on long suspension periods
The proposed bureau plans to deal with a challenge that the government has long faced, namely that of officials who are booked off from work for long periods of time while their disciplinary cases are under way, with many of these cases involving conflicts of interest as well as fraud and corruption.
The lengthy time it takes to resolve cases costs the state and taxpayers millions of rands a year as officials continue to be remunerated while on suspension and because the state often has to pay other officials to act in their place.
The government has also battled with public officials that are found guilty of an offence and, once fired, take up positions in other government departments or agencies.
Central database of corrupt officials
Sisulu said amendments to the law would also deal with this problem through the setting up of a central database to list public officials that are removed from office once found guilty of an offence.
She said the proposed anti-corruption bureau would be similar to one recently set up by the Tanzanian government and would co-operate with all the government's anti-corruption agencies.
At the same time, a manual has been adopted by the Cabinet and provinces on procedures in recruiting, retaining and dealing with officials that resign.
An exit interview will be required for any resignation by officials with the position of chief director upwards, to ensure that such officials are not facing a disciplinary procedure when they announce their resignation.
Uniform standards will be applied to all public servants across government, Sisulu said.
"We will, for example prescribe the time a department or province should take to resolve a disciplinary case failing which the bureau will have to intervene to complete the case," she said.
Schooling more dedicated public servants
The department also intends to transform the Public Administration Leadership and Management Academy (Palama) into a school of government by October this year in order to create more committed and dedicated public servants.
This will ensure that all core training of public servants is not outsourced, but carried out internally.
Sisulu said all new public servants would be required to undergo induction training, adding that the present intake of civil servants were currently undergoing induction training.
She said the Presidential Remuneration Commission, announced by President Jacob Zuma in his State of the Nation Address last month, would ensure a fair, equitable and efficient remuneration system in the public service.
Reviewing public sector pay structure
The commission will review the remuneration and conditions of service policy in the public service and make recommendations concerning issues, including a suitable job classification framework for the public service to establish the link between pay and responsibilities of specific jobs - such as nurses, doctors, teachers and statisticians.
The review will take eight months and is set to start later this year. It will initially focus on teachers' salaries, Sisulu said.
The minister said South Africa's public sector faced a number of challenges, including a weakening state and the emergence of a "tender state", poor service delivery, lack of innovation, and violent service delivery protests.
The public sector needed to be professionalised with full-scale business processes, she said.
On the public sector wage agreement which was negotiated for a three-year period last year, Sisulu said it was a historic step, changing the once antagonistic relationship between the government and labour and thereby freeing up time for the state to move forward more easily.