Public service corruption and misconduct could hit 1bn mark

Parliament gets commission sum up for 2012……

The parliamentary session for 2012 came to an end on a sour note regarding corruption with an update from the Public Service Commission (PSC) informing the public service and administration portfolio committee that, based on auditor general outcomes for all government departments, the total sum representing  “financial misconduct” in the public service for 2011/2012 could well hit the R1bn mark by the time PSC report was ready.

PSC commissioner, Prof. Richard Levin, told parliamentarians that, in the view of PSC, offending heads and senior public servants should be charged criminally for failing to declare conflicts of interest and that senior public servants in the supply chain should be prohibited from doing any form of business whatsoever.

Last year misconduct findings on the increase

In 2011/12, the period under review, some 838 senior civil servants were charged with financial misconduct, a considerable increase over the previous two years, he noted.    An extraordinary 20% of senior managers in the department of co-operative governance and traditional affairs had interests in firms doing business with government; with department of transport standing at 19% and the department of public works reflecting 17%.

Prof. Levin said that departments around the country had “consistently failed” to take action against clear cases of misconduct, primarily due, he said, to an inadequate capacity to chair disciplinary hearings, resulting in a considerable number of public servants remaining for long periods on costly precautionary suspension.

More disciplinary powers called for

In his report to the committee, Prof. Levin recommended that the PSC be given more powers to enable it to “vigorously follow up” in the case of severe misconduct; that lifestyle audits of key staff be conducted where appropriate and with urgency, as well as indebtedness reports conducted where obvious implications were concerned.

He called for the PSC to have greater investigative powers and that government public service policy on whistle-blowing and access to information “needed to be developed and implemented”.

Call for all to join the fight

Meanwhile, public services and administration deputy minister, Ayanda Dlodlo, said at an anti-corruption day summit in Pretoria that “the battle against corruption is not only the responsibility of government and should be supported by civil society and the private sector”.

She said the entire South African society had a role to play in the fight against corruption.

“The word corruption irritates me, and I hope it will irritate more people and mobilise them to fight against it. This word must disappear entirely from our vocabulary. Our country has lost an unquantifiable amount of money as a result of corruption; money that could have been used to uplift the poor people”, she said

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