Global Forum on fighting corruption and Safeguarding Integrity II 

30 May 2001
Honourable Ministers
Your Excellencies
Ladies and Gentlemen
I wish to express my sincere appreciation to the Government of the Netherlands for the very successful Global Forum on Fighting Corruption and Safeguarding Integrity. I am also grateful for the opportunity to present the results achieved by South Africa in our fight against corruption and to share with you our latest developments. I should add that we have progressed well, but being in this eminent congregation of countries, expertise and goodwill make us realize how much we still need to do. Thus I will humbly share our experience.

Our country, South Africa, is a new democracy established in 1994. But we have a history that is complex. For decades the country was subjected to a politically corrupt and immoral regime and this regime caused lasting and structural inequalities. Its legacy and obstacles are complex issues to address. One such legacy is corruption.

To understand our approach to fighting corruption it is important to also understand that we have a proud history of mobilising ordinary citizens, civil society and international communities to fight the previous corrupt regime. So, fundamental to our approach to fighting corruption is to again mobilise ordinary citizens, civil society and the international community.

So, what has South Africa done to date?

In 1997, the executive leadership of our country initiated a rolling campaign against corruption that culminated in a National Anti-corruption Summit for all stakeholders in the country in April 1999. Broadly we categorise all these stakeholders as the Public, Business and Civil Society Sectors. The Sectors collectively established our platform for further work by recognising that the Sectors have individual and collective responsibilities to fight the societal problem of corruption.

After a year of intense negotiation the Sectors agreed to establish the National Anti-corruption Forum in which each of the Sectors have 10 representatives. The objectives of the Forum to be established on 15 June this year are to-

  • Establish a national consensus through the coordination of sectoral anti-corruption strategies,
  • Advise Government on the implementation of strategies to combat corruption,
  • Share information and best practice on sectoral anti-corruption work and
  • Advise each other on the improvement of sectoral anti-corruption strategies.
The fundamental approach of the Forum is that Sectors need to address corruption in sectoral specific ways, but that coordination and integration of the sectoral strategies are required to support a national anti-corruption strategy. The national anti-corruption strategy then also caters for those activities residing with the State, such as establishing legislation, the judiciary and implementation of international instruments.

South Africa has strong political commitment to fight corruption, both in our political leadership and through collective civil mobilisation. We have a range of legislation, including legislation that criminalises corruption, protects whistleblowers and witnesses, provides access to information to ordinary citizens, legislation for special commissions and tribunals, legislation to recover the proceeds of crimes, including corruption, a well as legislation dealing with international cooperation in criminal matters.

We have independent institutions that fight corruption, namely the Auditor-General, Public Protector and the Public Service Commission, and we have a well-functioning criminal justice system. We are constantly developing our management, accountability and internal control arrangements, including performance, employment and procurement policies. We have codes for conduct and codes that deal with breaches of conduct. You will note that we have elements of just about every good practice example.

However, South Africas national Executive recently instructed the Public Service to develop a revised and improved Public Sector Anti-corruption Strategy. This revised strategy must, amongst other dictates, make the institutions fighting corruption and promoting transparency more efficient. Accordingly a process has commenced to review corruption and related legislation in order to-

  • Extend the scope of the legislation to all sectors
  • Minimise the fragmentation of the legislation
  • Improve elements of detection, prevention, investigation
  • Improve capabilities to address corruption on administrative, criminal, civil and recovery levels, and
  • Lastly, introduce prohibitions on corrupt individuals and businesses.
The emerging revised Public Sector Anti-corruption Strategy will be supported by intensive education, training and awareness activities.

Importantly, the revised legislation must accommodate our regional commitments a well as those emerging from other international forums such as this one. You may be aware of three significant developments in this area:

  • In February this year, African Public Service Ministers issued the Windhoek Declaration and adopted the Charter for the Public Service in Africa. The Charter commits the signatories to establishing professional and ethical values in our regional public services and it requires the establishment of a monitoring system for the implementation of the Charter.

  • On July 28, 2000, in Lusaka, the Legal sector of the Southern African Development Community considered and approved a draft SADC Protocol against Corruption. Later this year heads of State of our Community will finally consider this Protocol for adoption and implementation. We firmly believe that regional instruments such as these form the foundation of international cooperation, especially for legal cooperation and exchange of good practice and information.

  • South Africa is a signatory to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (the "Palermo Convention") and efforts are underway to speed its ratification. Provisions regarding corruption as contained in this Convention, while mostly already captured in domestic legislation, will furter the development of adequate anti-corruption legislation.
South Africa fully participated in the preparations for and adoption of the Palermo Convention. Furthermore, South Africa in the last week of March hosted a joint SADC-Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention (ODCCP) Regional Meeting of the Ministers of Justice and Attorneys-General on the ratification of the Palermo Convention.

We are appreciative of the technical and donor assistance for its anti-corruption work. On the 9th of March this year, South Africa also became an active participant of the Global Programme against Corruption. In terms of our partnership agreement with the ODCCP, South Africa will this year conduct a thorough country corruption assessment. Other outputs will include the formulation of our national anti-corruption strategy and supporting legislation, in collaboration with our partners of the National Anti-corruption Forum that I referred to earlier in my statement.

The country assessment leads me to a point that is of great concern to our country and our region, and I believe also to other regions. Consensus on the value of corruption perception indicators does not exist. Often these indicators form the basis of judgmental statements and investment decisions. You will realize that such uninformed decisions can have dire consequences for the emerging economies and integrity levels of countries. We urge all countries to promote the development of a consensus on the indicators used for measuring corruption. We will do so.

Let me now turn to the Global Forum. The Global Forum has provided an excellent opportunity to exchange information and to establish further partnerships with other countries, Civil Society and the media. I wish also to express our support for the development of an international instrument against corruption proposed by the United Nations General Assembly and the progress towards this ideal that has been provided through the Forum. Furthermore, we believe that the declaration emanating from this Forum will sufficiently accommodate our concerns and needs, as well as that it will remain an inspiration to our domestic initiatives.

Thank you.

Issued by the Public Service Commission, 30 May 2001


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