Public Service Commission chairperson, Prof. Somadoda Fikeni(left) and Acting Public Service and Administration Minister, Mr Thulas Nxesi

South Africans must stand united against corruption and embrace accountability, transparency and good governance to realise the National Development Plan (NDP) goal of eradicating poverty and increasing economic growth.

These were the words of Public Service and Administration Acting Minister, Thulas Nxesi while speaking at the International anti-corruption day on Thursday in Pretoria.

“I strongly believe that we can overcome these challenges if we intensify our efforts to eradicate corruption and rally around the call for a zero tolerance to corruption. In order to achieve the NDP goal of eradicating poverty and increasing economic growth, we must stand united against corruption and embrace accountability, transparency and good governance.

“To achieve this, we must continue to foster anti-corruption partnerships with all sectors of society such as the private sector, civil society and academia to ensure that everyone is united in the resolve to eradicate corruption,” he said.

Minister Nxesi said corrosive consequences of corruption have caused great suffering and harm to the country and the African continent.

“Corruption proliferates under conditions where the integrity infrastructure is weak and ineffective…the successful application and implementation of laws is predicated on strong leadership and the ability of leaders to set a vision, based on the rights, values and principles in the Constitution.

“I don’t think that I would be alarmist to suggest that South Africa finds itself on the precipice of deep societal divisions caused by corruption and general malfeasance. Without a moral compass to place it on a path in which the aspirations of the Constitution and the creation of a truly capable, ethical and developmental state are realised,” he said.

Despite government efforts, Minister Nxesi said it must be acknowledged that the challenges regarding corruption have stubbornly prevailed and seem to continue unabated.

“We have seen an increase in the number of complaints reported through the National Anti-Corruption Hotline (NACH). During the 2021/22 financial year a total of 1563 complaints were reported through the NACH and referred to Departments and Public Entities for investigation.

“Out the 1563 complaints reported, 479 relates to National Departments, 324 relates to Provincial Departments and 760 relates to Public Entities. For the financial year 2022/23 as at 31 October 2022, 930 complaints were reported through the NACH and referred to National and Provincial Departments as well as Public Entities for investigation,” he said.

According to Acting Minister Nxesi, the importance of commemorating International Anti-Corruption Day presents the nation with the opportunity to reaffirm the commitment to eradicate corruption in the country.

“When we signed the United Nations Convention against Corruption on 09 December 2003, later ratified it, our government made a commitment, and took a conscious decision that, we shall not allow our country to be insidiously devoured by the scourge that is continuing to bedevil societies,” he said.

National Framework of professionalisation of the public sector

In October earlier this year, Cabinet approved the National Framework towards the implementation of professionalisation of the public sector as building state capacity towards a capable, ethical and developmental state remains the foremost priority of the 6th administration.

Minister Nxesi said the release of the framework also coincided with the response by President Cyril Ramaphosa to the recommendations of the Judicial Commission of inquiry into Allegations of State capture, which raised the issue of the professionalisation of public administration.

“The professionalisation framework seeks to ensure that only qualified and competent individuals are appointed into positions of authority in pursuit of a transformed, professional, ethical, capable and developmental public administration. It is seen as a potential game changer and a catalyst for systematic change in the organisation, capacity, capability and ethos of the public sector as a whole.

“We must strive to do all in our power to ensure that the professionalisation framework finds the necessary resonance,” he said.

 National Anti-Corruption Strategy

In 2018, Cabinet approved the National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS), which provides a framework and action plan for South Africa. The NACS is based on the principle that there should be prevention and combating of corruption through good governance, transparency, integrity management and accountability in society, and early detection of potential corrupt practices to supplement the reactive measures executed by law-enforcement agencies and other anti-corruption bodies.

The collective effort of society as a whole as well as and an integrated approach to the fight against corruption will help mitigate the risk of costly commissions of inquiry, forensic investigations and other legal processes.

The key components of this NACS is constituted of six pillars, which are:

  • Citizen Participation,
  • Professional Conduct,
  • Ethical governance with oversight and Consequence Management,
  • Credible and transparent Procurement Systems,
  • Strong anti-corruption agencies, and
  • Protection of vulnerable sectors.

National Anti-Corruption Advisory Council

In August this year, President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed the National Anti-Corruption Advisory Council (NACAC), a multi-sectoral advisory body established with a primary purpose implement and monitor the NACS and to render advice on the reports related to the Judicial Inquiry into State Capture.

Chaired by Professor Firoz Cachalia, NACAC has a three-year term and it will ultimately pave the way for the establishment of a permanent overarching entrenched national anti-corruption architecture (single agency) constituting government, civil society and business which will be responsible for the implementation of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy.

“Corruption is an evil that must be uprooted. Despite its obstinacy, we have made headway and we must remain optimistic, as even simple steps can move a country in the right direction,” he said.