DPSA Director-General opens the OECD workshop on the detection of foreign bribery

    DPSA Director-General, Ms Yoliswa Makhasi

    The Director-General of the Department of Public Service and Administration, Ms Yoliswa Makhasi, said security cluster personnel and whistleblowers are always faced with dangers and sacrifices in the fight against bribery, maladministration, and corruption.

    “As a government, we appreciate the response of the private sector to our call to attend this workshop and your willingness to partner with us in the fight against corruption. I especially want to thank the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors (IRBA) and the Export Credit Insurance Corporation (ECIC), as they became actively involved in work stemming from our involvement with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (or OECD) since the first workshop in 2017.

    “The Private sector is a valuable partner as it helps by closing the gap that exists from the lack of jurisdiction within the private sector,,” the DG said.  

    The event was also attended by the representatives of the OECD Inter-Departmental Task Team and the chair and deputy chair, Brig John Matroos and Advocate Lebo Baloyi.

    Through this Task Team, the government is hoping to highlight the administrative reforms that are required to boast South Africa’s anti-corruption agenda. The Anti-corruption and anti-bribery agenda requires that we emphasize and address integrity risks in the enforcement of laws and regulations through administrative action as part of the strategy to mitigate them. This approach was confirmed by the various anti-corruption strategies which have set the government’s priority objectives on the control and administration action to limit the scope for corrupt practices both in the private and public sectors.

    This Task Team is the implementation engine for South Africa on the international agreements pertaining to foreign bribery and is responsible for all the work done behind the scenes to prepare South Africa for its assessments.

    This is a team of dedicated individuals that are capable and want to see South Africa succeed. The team comprises of the Department of Public Service and Administration, National Prosecuting Authority, Asset Forfeiture Unit, Special Commercial Crimes Unit, Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, Financial Intelligence Centre, Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, South African Revenue Service, and Interpol.

    Previous assessments identified several challenges that remain. These include the legal framework that is fragmented and lacks coherence, creating risks of corrupt practices in its enforcement, and more generally endangering the rule of law and the capacity of the administration to carry out its functions effectively. The most critical of these challenges is the personal cost to whistle-blowers, which the Director-General said must be addressed.

    “It is our duty to ensure that the fight against anti-bribery and corruption becomes less expensive to individuals,” she said.

    South Africa is a member of a number of international Conventions to further the fight against corruption and implement best practices in doing so. This includes the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions, or the Anti-Bribery Convention.  This Convention addresses the issue of public officials receiving bribes in international business transactions, and South Africa through this workshop is reviewing its implementation.

    In 2007, South Africa became the first African country to be a party to this Convention.

    “As we commemorate the 59th Anniversary of the founding of Africa Day, South Africa has seen improvements in the continent’s standing in the fight against corruption.

    “In addition to improving the perceptions of the country abroad and that of the continent, the Convention also seeks to improve the social-, economic- and political existence of the average African by reducing the cost of the bureaucracy, doing business and improving service delivery,” Ms Makhasi said.

    Since joining the OECD Working Group on Bribery, which monitors the implementation of the Convention, the DPSA -as tasked by Cabinet- coordinated and facilitated the implementation of the Anti-Bribery Convention.

    This led to the establishment of the OECD Inter-Departmental Task Team, which guided the country to the finalization of the Phase 1 assessment in 2008, followed by the Phase 2 Assessment in 2010. 

    “At the moment, we are currently addressing the recommendations made during the Phase 3 assessment,” the DG said.

    In July 2023, South Africa is expected to start with its Phase 4 evaluation. This evaluation is building on the previous assessments but requires the country to demonstrate a whole of society approach to address foreign bribery. This phase will target the effectiveness of the detection mechanisms that we have put in place, which makes it necessary to partner with all potential role-players.

    “This workshop should therefore assist us to forge a common understanding of foreign bribery and clarifying the roles of each other pertaining to South Africa’s foreign bribery obligations, especially when detecting foreign bribery. 

    “The aim of today’s session is, therefore, to provide an overview of the Convention, explain the foreign bribery offense, and outline the detection processes expected to be in place.

    “This will foster awareness of foreign bribery and assist in evaluating the paucity of our detection mechanism and how these can be addressed as a collective..

    “As we fight against this scourge, we must ensure that we guard against us becoming drawn into it.

    “As the German Philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche said, “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.”

    “This is a fight we have to win and must win,” the DG said.

    Chief Director of the Technical Assistance Unit at the DPSA, Dr Salomon Hoogenraad-Vermaak presented at the workshop