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Public servants urged to speak out against corruption

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Public Service and Administration Deputy Minister, Dr Chana Pilane-Majake has urged public servants to speak out against corruption and unethical conduct in the public service.

Addressing public servants at the launch of the Ethics Week (19-23 September) at Batho Pele House, Pretoria on Monday, Deputy Minister Pilane-Majake said public servants should use existing reporting mechanisms to expose those who are corrupt.

“I implore you as public servants to speak out against corruption and unethical conduct, and to use existing reporting mechanisms to report those who are corrupt or unethical. The time for us to be mere spectators when these actions take place, has passed. The Protected Disclosures Act as recently promulgated has strengthened protection mechanisms for whistle blowers

“During this Public Service Month, five days will be dedicated to ethics and integrity. We must continue as part of building a capable state, inculcate the constitutional values amongst public servants,” she said.

The Technical Assistance Unit

The Public Administration Ethics, Integrity and Disciplinary Technical Assistance Unit (TAU), forms part of this resilient anti-corruption system, and is an important instrument to address corruption, fraud and unethical conduct in the Public Administration.

As part of the Fusion Centre, created by the National Anti-Corruption Task Team to fast track corruption cases TAU plays an important role to identify public servants involved in fraud and corruption and to monitor that disciplinary action is taken against culprits.

The Unit has neither criminal jurisdiction nor an investigative mandate, but, by being part of a coordinated anti-corruption system, it strengthens government’s oversight of ethics, integrity and discipline.

TAU ensures that Public Servants involved in corruption are held accountable through institutional mechanisms put in place and coordinated by ethics officers in departments across government. TAU has a mandate to develop norms and standards regarding the management of ethics and integrity for the Public Administration.

In line with the values espoused by our Constitution, the Unit adopted a policy for prohibition of public service employees conducting business with the state. In this regard, with some of the employees already convicted for fraud and corruption, case law has been strengthened as part of the fight against corruption.

Lifestyle Audit policy was also adopted to detect unexplained wealth among public servants. To this end, Dr Pilane-Majake said government has managed to step up consequence management where there is wrong doing.

A Guide on to Discipline Management in the public service, has also been developed in this regard. There is also a Code of Conduct for Public Service employees developed to address discipline management.

This includes: technical assistance to non-acceptance of gifts for work performed; permission to perform remunerative work outside government; performing business with the state, establishment of ethics infrastructure to build an environment, conducive to ethical practices.

The Deputy Minister thanked the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime as well as the World Bank, for the support they provided for a tailor-made course for Ethics officers on the verification of financial disclosures as part of the lifestyle review process.

A training course for investigators to conduct lifestyle audit is being developed with the assistance of the SIU.  “Although TAU develops norms and standards, it is the responsibility of departments to implement such. This is the responsibility of Heads of Department and their Ethics Officers.  Over the last two years, about 340 Ethics Officers were designated at national and provincial department level.

“These employees, are the real change agents for ethics in our national and provincial departments. They are the driving force behind the ethics program of government,” she said.

The fight against corruption

Deputy Minister Pilane-Majake said the fight against corruption in South Africa is real and it is continuing.  “This is not only demonstrated in the adoption of a National Anti-Corruption Strategy and the recent appointment of experts by President Cyril Ramaphosa on the Presidential Anti-Corruption Council towards see full implementation of the strategy.

“Law enforcement agencies such as: the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (or the Hawks), the National Prosecuting Authority and the Special Investigating Unit, are all reporting much anticipated progress that showcase their contributions to address corruption in government,” she said.

The week-long Ethics Week will be comprised of the launch of the Ethics Survey Report as well as series of engagement forums with various stakeholders including ethics officers and labour relations officials within the public service, representatives from the Office of the Director of Public Officers’ Declaration (ODPOD) of Malawi and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) – Southern Africa.