SPEECHES

Keynote address by the Minister for Public Service and Administration, honourable Radhakrishna L. Padayachie (Roy), MP on the occasion of the 4th National Anti-Corruption summit, Sandton Convention Centre – Johannesburg, 8 December 2011

Date: 7 Dec 2011

Programme Director
Chairperson of the NACF, Ms Futhi Mthoba
Leaders of Government, Business and Civil Society
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentleman
All protocol observed

I take this opportunity to thank the organisers of this Summit for affording me and many other guests and speakers the opportunity to address this august event. I am particularly pleased that the Summit is taking place at the end of a season in which our government has been an active participant in many fora seized with the endeavour of tackling the scourge of corruption in all its manifestations, and reflecting on the efficacy of our anti-corruption strategies to date.

Barely two months ago, on 18 October 2011, Public Protector South Africa convened the Good Governance Conference under the theme: Strengthening Synergies and Leadership in Ensuring Public Accountability, where representatives from the three sectors within the National Anti-corruption Forum (NACF) as well as international guests effectively participated and made meaningful contributions on this subject. One of the emerging issues from the conference was that collaboration amongst all the key stakeholders in the battle against corruption contributes towards the promotion of a national integrity system in the country.

Another important recent event was the third and the final chapter of the National Anti-corruption Business Forum, which was convened by Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) on 21 October 2011. This was a forum of eminent stakeholders which provided an opportunity for individual and collective reflection on the successes and indeed shortcomings of our anti-corruption initiatives and strategies to date.

Our country also participated in the 4th Conference of States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), which was held in Marrakech in the Kingdom of Morocco, from 24 to 28 October 2011. The Conference afforded South Africa the opportunity to underscore, among others, the importance of international cooperation, cohesion and enhanced synergy in the battle against corruption.

Having participated actively in all these events during which we gained valuable insights from the experiences of the various sectors, government is of the view that the theme for this Summit, "Ten years on: Recommitting and Intensifying Collective Action to fight corruption", is most appropriate as it instructs all of us to reflect on how far we have come and critically review progress since the 1st National Anti-Corruption Summit held in 1999 and which culminated in the formation of the NACF in 2001.

Following its inception, the NACF sought to:

  • Foster the establishment of a national consensus through the co-ordination of sectoral strategies against corruption;
  • Advise government on the implementation of strategies to combat corruption; and
  • Serve as a platform to share information and best practice on sectoral anti-corruption work and advise sectors on the improvement of sectoral anti-corruption strategies.

When the 2nd Summit was convened in March 2005, under the theme "Fighting Corruption together: Past Achievements, Future Challenges", much emphasis was placed on collective action; and a recommendation was made for a joint development by the three sectors of a National Anti-corruption Program (NAP) to give further impetus to the activites of the NACF.

The 3rd Summit, held in 2008 under the theme "Towards an Integrated National Integrity Framework: Consolidating the Fight Against Corruption", sought to mobilize the sectors into the development of the country’s National Integrity Framework. It was envisaged that the Framework would allow all sectors of the NACF to jointly craft an Integrity Framework for the country which would provide values and standards as a basis for integrity-driven governance in all sectors.

This year’s theme is thus a litmus test of our collective appetite, ten years on, for continuing resolutely on this journey to combat corruption and restore the anti-corruption ethos and integrity of our nation.

The theme also affords us the opportunity to critically evaluate whether or not we are making a difference in the prevention and combating of corruption, what our yardstick in measuring our progress is; and when asked, "Quo vadis?" or where are we headed as a country in the battle against corruption, to be able to respond decisively, positively and with conviction.

Programme Director

Corruption is a universal phenomenon; it exists in all countries, both developed and developing, in the public and private sectors, as well as in non-profit and charitable organizations. And it can be a major obstacle in the process of economic development and in modernizing a country — which is why it is receiving priority attention from our Government.

There has been an understanding that any solution we seek to fight corruption must be comprehensive and holistic. It must not be a one-size-fits-all approach, but rather one that reflects an appreciation for the varied manner in which corruption afflicts our communities, urban and rural, affluent and poverty-stricken, populous and sparsely-populated.

It is thus no accident that the past Summits of the NACF have expressed the need for strategic partnerships to prevent and combat corruption. Indeed our country’s approach to preventing and combating corruption has, for the past ten years, been unique in the sense that Government, Business and Civil society have been collectively working together to battle the scourge. This approach has been informed by the realisation and conviction that corruption is a societal problem and efforts to combat its effects therefore need to be addressed collaboratively and effectively by all sectors.

For its part, government has over the past ten years enacted a wide-range of enabling legislation that promotes the creation of a corrupt-free society and advancement of the country’s developmental agenda.

The Business Sector in turn has embarked on various anti-corruption initiatives during the past ten years; key among these being the efforts to improve governance through reforms introduced by King I, II and III Reports on corporate governance.

Civil society has also been a key player in the efforts to battle the scourge of corruption and its adverse effects. It is encouraging to note that civil society has just convened an indaba on anti-corruption aimed at rationalising it representation on the NACF as well as to review its participation and contribution to the anti-corruption struggle through the NACF.

I must hasten to admit though that, while we laud the various contributions that have been made, we should pause for a moment to reflect on the whether measures that have been introduced have been effective in preventing and combating corruption in our society - are these measures making any difference?

An analysis of the anti-corruption initiatives reveals that there are gaps in the application of existing legislation and policy, something which compromises the good work we are doing on the anti-corruption front to a large degree. There is also the problem of poor coordination amongst anti-corrutpion agencies and duplication of roles often resulting in the wastage of largely limited resources.

Programme Director

Weak institutions and poor governance systems undermine our efforts to prevent and combat corruption. Inadvertently, the lack of effective governance systems creates the material conditions which if not timeously addressed become a breeding ground for systemic corruption — a situation where many people are corrupt; where the system itself has grown sick. A distinguishing characteristic of systemic corruption is that many parts of government or business or indeed any other entity that is supposed to prevent corruption has itself become susceptible to corruption — budgeting, auditing, inspection, compliance, monitoring, evaluation, and enforcement.

In such a situation the anti-corruption mission becomes much more difficult and daunting.

That is why some schools of thought hold the view that combating corruption is fundamentally about addressing poor governance rather than merely about catching the perpetrators and bringing them to book. They argue that special focus should be at a project level: procurement procedures must be rationalised; disbursement processes must be tightened and; audits must be conducted more promptly and regularly.

Coupled with this is the need to promote judicial and legislative reform as a matter of greater priority, because non implementation of good law writes bad law and in the absence of good law buttressed by an effectively-functioning judicial and prosecutorial system, the rule of law remains weak, retarding local and foreign direct investment and socio-economic development as well as job creation and poverty alleviation. Despite our most valiant efforts, we get caught in a vicious and unrelenting downward spiral.

This Summit must therefore emerge with concrete proposals on how to addresss gaps in the existing legislation and policy so that the war on corruption is successfully fought and won now on the battlefields of government departments, civil society organizations and the business environment so that indeed future generations can enjoy the benefits of a corruption-free society that we will have created through our unwavering commitment and collective efforts.

Programme Director

Corruption is a complex phenomenon and its manifestations and consequences have a direct bearing on the very fabric of society. At a more fundamental level, corruption makes it difficult for low and middle-income countries to establish and maintain domestic and internationally acceptable "rules of the game" which are necessary for orderly and proper conduct of investment and business activities. This deficiency is arguably one of the salient reasons why the least developed countries in the world are poor.

As a middle-income country, with a vast segment of underdevelopment, South Africa requires that our efforts to fight corruption must speak to one another. Our national anti-corruption strategies must be intrinsically linked with other interventions at the operational level, particularly with the view to freeing the most vulnerable from the jaws of the currupters.

In this regard, it is my considered view that collective action is equal to the sum of the parts, and that for collective action to work, each part; that is, each individual and each organization across the spectrum of social partners must work more cohesively in tackling corruption. This view is echoed by the World Bank which stated recently that collective action is not a silver bullet to end the corruption problem, but it is a useful complement to efforts taken by individual stakeholders.

As government we submit that fighting corruption in all its manifestations cannot be our responsibility alone; it is a collective responsibility requiring collective action amongst all stakeholders. If not, how else can we hope to succeed in protecting the most vulnerable, most susceptible and most indigent among us?

Collective action must be underpinned by synergy; this being defined as, "two or more things functioning together to produce a result not independently obtainable". If we hope therefore to defeat the scourge of corruption, collective action is a prerequisite and all state institutions, civil society and the business sector must work in synergy to tackle this common problem — a result not independently obtainable.

We also want to observe synergy at a government level where different government entities march on collectively to address the common problems affecting and afflicting the administration. Of paramount importance is synergy at sectoral level, where different sectors of society build coalitions and partnerships to address societal problems. Finally, synergy must be achieved at community level, where individual members of our society recognize their respective roles and take action in the fight against corruption as whistle blowers and as social activists.

Programme Director, our government recently adopted a New Growth Path and set specific targets that must be met to grow the economy, create jobs and improve the living conditions of the majority of South Africans. The New Growth Path was also taken on board when government developed and released the National Development Plan Vision 2030, which is also about increasing employment, eliminating poverty and reducing inequality.

The targets set in both the New Growth Path and the National Development Plan, however, can only be met if issues of good governance in general and corruption in particular are addressed successfully. The National Development Plan also challenges us to help build a corrupt-free society that responds to the development targets that we have set. As Minister Trevor Manuel stated at the launch of the National Development Plan,

"What binds us is a new story, a story for a better South Africa and for all its people, a story to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality, a story that changes the life chances of our people, particularly young people and women; a story that draws on our history, our experience and our traditions."

I therefore wish to once again congratulate the organisers of the 4th National Anti-corruption Summit for providing us with the space to reflect on the journey we have travelled towards taking the developmental agenda forward in the fight against corruption.

International practice has shown that collective action is successful where there is a champion to lead it. Are you that Champion? Can our country depend on you?

As we deliberate and share insights and best practices on this important theme over the next two days, and especially as we join the international community to commemorate World Anti-corruption Day tomorrow. May we emerge with concrete actions that should inform our focus and vision for the next decade in prospect.

I thank you


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