Gerda Moolman, MPL
DA Northern Cape
The Public Service Commission (PSC) Report on compliance and performance matters presented at a legislature portfolio committee meeting today, confirms the need to for legislation to prevent senior government officials from doing business with the state and for a dedicated anti-corruption unit.
It was stated that the Northern Cape government improved from 75% in the 2010/11 financial year to 100% compliance in the 2011/2012 financial year in terms of submitting financial disclosure forms to their executive authorities and in turn to the PSC. However, in departments where financial disclosures were scrutinized, there was enormous overlap between the official responsibilities and private business interests of senior managers. In fact, some members of the Senior Management Service (SMS) have as many as eight companies listed on their disclosure forms. Given the likelihood of a conflict of interest occurring in such cases, this is extremely worrying.
Furthermore, while the volume of cases of financial misconduct has decreased slightly on a national level, the cost of financial misconduct has increased significantly and there has been a steady increase in the number of senior managers involved in financial misconduct. In the Northern Cape, more than R1 million was lost to the provincial government in the 2011/2012 financial year due to the failure of provincial departments to recover losses as a result of financial misconduct. This includes, amongst others, one case of financial misconduct at the Department of Economic Development valued at R400 000, three cases at the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture valued at R557 000 and six cases at the Health Department valued at R177 800.
Yet another concerning element is the fact that while disciplinary hearings should be held within 60 days from the date when an employee is placed on suspension, this is not happening. Instead sampled departments took up to 355 days to finalize cases. The Education Department for example had 16 cases that took on average 174 days each, costing approximately R2,1 million.
The PSC report further confirmed that there is a lack of investigative capacity by departments to deal with cases through the Anti-Corruption Hotline and highlighted the need for dedicated capacity and resources to deal with corruption. This translated into 100 cases being referred to the Northern Cape but only 42% of these cases receiving feedback and only 34% of these cases being closed.
The DA has long called for legislation preventing senior government officials from doing business with the state, and for the need for a dedicated anti-corruption unit. Corrupt activities allow valuable state resources to go to fat cat officials rather than South Africa communities in need of services.
The PSC’s findings should spur the Northern Cape government into action. Its complacency on corruption is not serving the people of this province.