The Democratic Alliance (DA) can reveal that the operating hours of the government's much vaunted anti-corruption hotline has been reduced to the point where the hotline is now only available to whistleblowers and members of the public during office hours on weekdays. During a recent meeting of the portfolio committee on public service and administration, the Public Service Commission (PSC) - the custodian of the hotline - said that members of the public are now only able to report corruption on "five days per week and eight hours per day."
Despite the limited working hours and as a result of the explosion in looting carried out by ANC cadres, the anti-corruption hotline received 1 591 complaints over the past financial year. However, in a clear indication of how the government is starving the PSC and the anti-corruption hotline of resources, only 64 cases were ultimately investigated by the PSC. At national level, only 18 officials were found guilty of misconduct, of which only two were dismissed.
By starving the anti-corruption hotline of funding, the ANC government has effectively rendered it toothless in the fight against escalating looting. As a result, whistleblowers and desperate members of the public are now met by the hollow voice of an answering machine if they call after hours or over weekends. The effect is to severely limit the number of corruption cases that are reported and investigated because, as PSC Commissioner Michael Seloane told the committee, "people usually don't call while they are at work. They call after hours."
The DA has been reliably informed that the anti-corruption hotline operated 24/7 until 31 December 2016, when the government terminated its contract with an outsourced service provider. This was despite the fact that the PSC had warned the government that it lacked the funds to operate the hotline around the clock. Consequently, for the past three years, the anti-corruption hotline has kept office hours while corruption exploded.
Of course, limiting the ability of the PSC and the anti-corruption hotline to stem the rising tide of corruption suits the criminals in the ANC like a glove, leading to the suspicion that the government has deliberately starved the hotline of the funding it needs to operate effectively.
The DA will use the upcoming term in parliament to ramp-up our fight to ensure that the PSC anti-corruption hotline is adequately funded. Because ANC corruption never rests, the DA will also not rest until the hotline is available to brave whistleblowers and members of the public for 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.