South Africa: Technical Assistance Unit an Essential Part in Anti-Corruption Machinery

20 September 2021

The Technical Assistance Unit is an integral cog in the anti-corruption machinery of government and an important instrument to address corruption, fraud and unethical conduct in the Public Administration.

These were the remarks of Public Service and Administration Minister Ayanda Dlodlo at the launch of the Public Administration Ethics Integrity and Disciplinary Technical Assistance Unit (PA-EID-TAU) on Monday.

The unit is aimed at addressing issues related to ethical conduct and corruption in the public service.

Addressing the launch, Dlodlo said that government is committed to eradicate corruption and has put several programmes in place for this purpose, directed by the National Development Plan.

"This plan envisages a South Africa with reduced levels of corruption by 2030, to be achieved through the National Anti-Corruption Strategy that serves as South Africa's blue print to tackle corruption," Dlodlo said.

Dlodlo said that in discussions with the Steering Committee of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy, she has encouraged the team to interrogate the real cost of corruption to the State and our people.

"One of the vehicles identified in the plan to address corruption is a resilient anti-corruption system, which will successfully detect and investigate cases of corruption, with a view to prosecute, convict and incarcerate perpetrators.

"By utilizing this system to coordinate our anti-corruption efforts, significant strides were made, amongst others, to address those public service employees involved in corrupt activities," Dlodlo said.

The Minister emphasised that the newly established Unit has no criminal jurisdiction or investigative mandate, but as part of the Anti-Corruption Task Team, it collectively contributes to the fight against corruption.

She said that the Unit plays a critical role to follow up with national and provincial departments on criminal cases reported to the Police, and to ensure that the necessary disciplinary steps are taken.

"When the DPSA first started to monitor this in 2017, approximately 8 500 employees were listed as suppliers on the Central Supplier Database. As the end of July 2021, this amount stands at 96, and is interrogated to ensure no contracts are concluded with these employees," Dlodlo said.

Dlodlo added that the South African Police Service, National Prosecuting Authority and DPSA team, whilst working on this issue, identified 17 priority cases for investigation, of which one case is already enrolled to court.

Awareness on whistleblowing

The Minister said that the Unit has a critical role to play in terms of reaching the objectives stated in the National Anti-Corruption Strategy.

"This is to contribute to the building of an ethical leadership, to professionalise the public administration, and to establish a culture of reporting and whistleblowing," Dlodlo said.

Dlodlo said that any anti-corruption and professionalisation initiative must allow employees to blow the whistle on corruption and for the protection of whistle-blowers.

"The death of Ms Babita Deokaran highlights the imperative to increase awareness amongst employees on whistle-blowing, to bolster early detection of corruption and criminal conduct.

"It is time that we revisit South Africa's whistle-blowing regime and examine it vigorously, not only the legislation and its effectiveness, but also the lack of a single repository that can be used for research to strengthen the system and practice," Dlodlo said.

Dlodlo added that: "We also need to interrogate the lack of cooperation across government to protect whistle blowers and we have to identify the bullies abusing their power to stop whistle-blowing from happening".

In her closing remarks, Dlodlo said that the establishment of the Unit is an important step in addressing corruption and to encourage workplace ethics.

"Section 195 of the Constitution requires the maintenance and promotion of a high level of professional ethics in the Public Administration. This not only speaks to the role of public servants performing their work in an efficient and ethical way, but also for those in leadership positions to act ethically at all times," Dlodlo said.

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