Overview of Anti-Corruption Programmes and Strategies in South Africa a Look at the Past Decade, and Forward to a Common Programme of Action

Addressed by: Prof S S Sangweni
Chairperson: Public Service Commission
At The Free State Provincial Anti-Corruption Summit,
Bloemfontein : 29 July 2005


  1. South Africa is a relatively new democracy that emerged in 1994 after decades of struggle. During the years of struggle, South Africa was a fragmented country and the majority of its people were subjected to a corrupt political, social, economical and moral regime. In 1994 the Government that was elected democratically by the majority of people, embarked upon a programme to reconstruct and develop South Africa to the benefit of all its peoples. The programme of growth, reconstruction and development was fraught with obstacles and legacies created by the apartheid regime. One such obstacle was the prevalence of corruption.
  2. In recent years, government has stepped up its anti-corruption activities. Its efforts have become more systemic, with greater emphasis on instituting appropriate policy measures to prevent corruption. Anti-corruption has been a priority in the programme of Government for many years and even the 2005 Programme of Action reflects this. Whilst the essence of progress in this area is captured in the Towards a Ten Year Review discussion document, progress has been much deeper and comprehensive. In this paper I deal with the significant domestic initiatives, regional and international co-operation and conclude with an overview of corruption currently, the challenges ahead and the way forward. Ten years of Government action against corruption
  3. In March 1997 government Ministers responsible for the South African National Crime Prevention Strategy established a programme committee to work on corruption. By June 1997 the Code of Conduct for the Public Service had become part 2 of the regulations for every public servant. The programme committees work resulted in Governments approval of a National Campaign against Corruption in 1998. The first step involved a Public Sector Anti-corruption Conference in November of 1998. Its resolutions addressed such issues as defining corruption, restoring a public service ethos, the role of civil society, the responsibilities of public sector managers, financial management and controls, and co-ordination of anti-corruption structures.
  4. Fundamental to the fight against corruption was the involvement of all stakeholders. To this end the first National Anti-corruption Summit was convened in April 1999, involving government leaders, organised business, organised religious bodies, the NGO sector, donor countries, the media, organised labour unions, academic and professional bodies and the public sector. The first National Anticorruption Summit created a powerful platform for the National Campaign Against Corruption in that it recognised the societal nature of corruption, and that the fight against corruption requires a national consensus and co-ordination of activities.
  5. The Summit adopted a range of resolutions for implementation in the public, business and civil society sectors of the country. These resolutions related to combating corruption, preventing corruption, building integrity and raising awareness. Progress with implementation of the resolutions has been very good. Government has honoured the commitments made at this Summit (see Annexure: Progress Report on Implementation of Summit Resolutions).
  6. As a result of continuous consultation between the sectors in the period after the first National Anti-corruption Summit, the National Anti-corruption Forum was created in June 2001 as the formal mechanism to bring the public, business and civil society sectors together to fight corruption in all aspects of our society. Government has consistently participated in this Forum and attempted to strengthen its work.
  7. The National Anti-Corruption Forum hosted the Second National Summit, held on 22 and 23 March 2005, in Pretoria. The Summit under the Theme : Fighting Corruption Together : Past Achievements and Future Challenges, presented an opportunity for all sectors of South African society to collectively reflect on past achievements and strategies, future challenges in fighting corruption and then to craft 3 a common programme of action for immediate and long term future. A total of 390 delegates attended the second Summit, representative of the three sectors, namely the Public, Business and Civil Society Sectors. A total 27 resolutions were adopted by the Summit addressing issues of: Ethics, Awareness and Prevention of Corruption; Combating Corruption, as well as Oversight, Transparency and Accountability. These constitute the basis of the current national programme and strategy against corruption. Public Service Anti-Corruption Strategy
  8. In the beginning of 2001, in line with Cabinets decision to fast track our anticorruption work, the Minister for the Public Service and Administration created a unit to co-ordinate and integrate Governments anti-corruption work at the level of policy and strategy implementation. Work started on establishing a strategy that balanced prevention, action against corruption and sustainable systems of prevention, information and communication. The Public Service Anti-Corruption Strategy was approved by Cabinet in January 2002, and implementation commenced in February of that year. This Strategy contains nine considerations that are inter-related and mutually supportive. These are as follows:-
  1. Review and consolidation of the legislative framework
  2. Increased institutional capacity to prevent and combat corruption
  3. Improved access to report wrongdoing and protection of whistleblowers and witnesses
  4. Prohibition of corrupt individuals and businesses (blacklisting)
  5. Improved management policies and practices
  6. Managing professional ethics
  7. Partnerships with stakeholders
  8. Social analysis, research and policy advocacy
  9. Awareness, training and education.
  1. In accordance with the Public Service Anti-Corruption Strategy, and also arising from the Constitution, the recommendations of the National Anti-Corruption Summit and various of Governments policy decisions have been translated into a number of anti-corruption measures. These are as follows:-

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  1. National Government has introduced and promoted various pieces of key legislation such as the Protected Disclosures Act, Promotion of Access to Information Act, Financial Intelligence Centre Act, Promotion of Administrative Justice Act and the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act.
  2. Establishment of strong institutional capacity at national level to complement the basic police work, with such institutions such as the Public Protector, the National Prosecuting Authority, The Special Investigating Unit, the Public Service Commission, the Financial Intelligence Centre and the Auditor-General. These institutions, individually and collectively, are reaching levels of maturity and efficiency that have provided the country with strong anti-corruption capacity.
  3. The money laundering work of the Financial Intelligence Centre is compliant with the highest international standard for combating money laundering, namely the Forty Recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering.
  4. The establishment of an Asset Register for Accounting Officers and mandatory financial disclosure of assets and interests for all Senior Managers.
  5. Various other improvements in public administration in the Public Service, including defining Honesty and Integrity as a key set of 11 competencies required of senior managers.
  6. The enactment of the Public Finance Management Act, including the requirement for departments to do risk assessments and develop fraud prevention plans. As part of implementation the whole supply chain management system has been reformed and pertinent anti-corruption measures have been established.
  7. Government commissioned a study into all agencies involved in anticorruption work with a view to increasing efficiencies and impact. This study was completed in August 2001 and complemented by a study in 2002 on departmental anti-corruption capacity. In September 2003 Cabinet approved requirements for minimum anti-corruption capacity within all government departments. By November 2004, 67% of departments in the Public Service have established capacity in line with Cabinets decisions.
  8. A programme to establish and roll out Specialised Commercial Crimes Courts have been launched in Pretoria in 2000 and new courts for Durban and Port Elizabeth have been launched late last year. These courts have gained strong business support and international acclaim as a best practice model. These courts deal with a variety of commercial crimes and corruption and statistics show that these courts finalise a greater number of cases and achieve higher conviction rates than normal regional courts.
  9. A national public service anti-corruption hotline system was established in 2004 (toll-free number is 0800 701 701). To date 850 cases have been processed through the system, including about 60 service delivery cases. A total + 35 cases have been dealt with by Departments and finalised.
  1. The Anti-corruption Co-ordinating Committee has been established to co-ordinate implementation of the Public Service Anti-corruption Strategy as well as other anticorruption work. This Committee consists of 14 departments and agencies within Government, including the Special Investigating Unit, National Prosecuting Authority, Public Protectors Office, Auditor-General, National Intelligence Agency, Public Service Commission, the Department of Public Service and Administration, the Department Provincial and Local Government, as well as Eight (8) Provincial Governments represented by the Premiers Offices (Free State not represented), Department of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Department of Home Affairs, National Treasury, and SAPS.
  2. The ability for law enforcement and related oversight agencies to coordinate work at operational level has increased significantly. The use of multi-agency task teams to investigate and deal with allegations of corruption has proved to be particularly successful.

Examples of such operations include the report on the Strategic Defence Procurement Package, the Joint Anti-corruption Task Team in the Eastern Cape, the High Flyers Project in the Western Cape and the project on the Top 200 criminals.

State Owned Enterprises

  1. Regarding State Owned Enterprises (SOEs), Cabinet approved the protocol on Corporate Governance in September 2002. Amongst various good governance arrangements, the Protocol obliges SOEs to combat corruption through such mechanisms as risk management and fraud prevention plans (the PFMA applies to SOEs), to do full disclosures of losses as a result of fraud and theft and to implement codes of ethics for board members and staff. Regarding restructuring processes, a restructuring oversight mechanism has been established as well as a Governance in Restructuring Processes Policy, which sets out minimum requirements including conflict of interest declarations, confidentiality requirements as well as monitoring of transactions by an independent auditor. As part of its ongoing reform programme for public entities, Government has commissioned a study into the structure and governance arrangements of these entities and is currently considering proposals to improve the governance arrangements for these entities.
  2. Related to the aforegoing is the Governments initiative to reform the accounting profession, inter alia to address possible deficiencies that may lead to governance scandals as seen elsewhere in the world. The draft Auditing Bill was published for public comment in November 2004 and Government is currently considering the inputs.

Local Government

  1. In the area of local government, Government has introduced the Municipal Finance Management Act in order to bring greater accountability and transparency into municipal operations. This Act also introduces risk management and fraud prevention as statutory requirements in local authorities. Structures have been created with the Department of Provincial and Local Government to initiate and implement an anti-corruption campaign in local government. Implementation of the anti-corruption initiative is taking place within the ambit of Project Consolidate, Governments initiative to support 136 municipalities.

Social Analysis and Research

  1. It was very difficult to identify specific trends in respect of corruption, or even to determine whether corruption had increased or decreased. To address this situation, a corruption country assessment was launched with support from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, under the auspices of the United Nations Global Programme against Corruption. A fairly extensive assessment was undertaken. The release of a comprehensive corruption country assessment report took place in early 2003. Elements thereof will be repeated through ongoing market, household and business surveys and research and in 2006 Government intends to do a full-scale assessment of the impact of its anti-corruption policies.

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Regional and International Co-operation
  1. South Africas quest for addressing the scourge of corruption through partnership also extends to regional and international co-operation. In October 1999 the South African government co-hosted the 9th International Anti-Corruption Conference in Durban with Transparency International. This meeting was attended by over 1600 delegates from over 135 countries and was drawn from government, business, civil society and international organisations.
  2. South Africa has ratified the Southern African Development Communitys (SADC) Protocol against Corruption as well as the United Nations Convention against Corruption, one of the first countries to do so. South Africa complies with the mandatory requirements of the United Nations Convention. Government played a prominent role in the negotiation of the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption, which was adopted in July 2003 by the Heads of State and Government at the AU Summit. South Africa is in the process of ratification of the African Union Convention.
  3. As part of its journey to complying with global anti-corruption standards and playing a prominent role in regional and international anti-corruption processes, Government has also requested accession to the OECD Convention on Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions. This request has been supported by the OECDs Working Group on Bribery and is now being considered by the OECDs Investment Committee. Accession to this Convention has material and political benefits for South Africa as a whole.
  4. A SADC Regional Anti-corruption Programme was adopted by member countries to give effect to the SADC Protocol against Corruption. This programme is based on the South African Public Service Anti-corruption Strategy, which is indicative of the regional regard for Governments anti-corruption initiatives.
  5. African Public Service Ministers meeting at the 3rd Pan African Conference of Public Service Ministers adopted the Charter for the Public Service in Africa on 5 February 2001. The Charter includes a code of conduct for African public service employees, to which South Africa complies. Whilst South Africa was the Chair of the 4th Pan African Conference two years later, the Capacity Development Programme : Governance and Administration was adopted, which includes a project on ethics in Africa. South Africa will continue to chair this important forum until 2007.
  6. On 9 March 2001 the South African government signed a project agreement with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime to support our national anti-corruption programme. Under this programme Government has been able to leverage partnership support for various distinct projects, including the Country Corruption Assessment, support to the National Prosecuting Authority, a courts integrity project as well as support for the Second National Anti-corruption Summit.
  7. During 2002 the Government of the Republic of (South) Korea approached the South African Government to assist with organising the third meeting of Global Forum on Fighting Corruption and Safeguarding Integrity. This Global Forum meeting was successfully hosted in Seoul in May in 2003. South Africa has also assisted the Government of Brazil with organising the Global Forum IV on Fighting Corruption and Safeguarding Integrity that took place in June 2005. South Africa is to host the Global Forum V in 2007.
  8. Government has made a significant contribution to the United Nations Practical Handbook for Investigators and Prosecutors on Corruption and serves on the project team of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime that is developing legislative guidelines for countries to comply with the United Nations Convention against Corruption. 24. The Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo has requested the South African Government to assist with establishing a comprehensive anti-corruption framework in the DRC. Work in this area has been ongoing since December 2004 and forms part of support to stabilise and reconstruct the DRC.
Remaining challenges
  1. In spite of the number of anti-corruption initiatives that Government has embarked upon in the past decade, various challenges remain. Whilst progress is also being made in local government as far as legislative requirements and structures are concerned, local government still lacks a visible and coherent anti-corruption strategy. In the case of public entities some degree of fragmentation in governance arrangements exists. Government is keen to develop a comprehensive governance strategy for the whole of the public sector, thus ensuring internal coherence and standards.
  2. Reliable data on corruption remains difficult and expensive to collate and analyse. The myriad of instruments used to determine corruption perception and experience and the efficacy of anti-corruption measures is not helpful. An ideal system would be one where a greater degree of consistency in methodologies exists, thus enabling comparative use of data. This needs to be supplemented with substantive research and analysis of causes and effects of corruption. In 2005/06 Government intends to measure compliance with anticorruption policies and in 2006/07 a full-scale impact assessment will be undertaken. In the process towards these outputs, Government will finalise the required indicator sets and engage with all partners.
  3. All sectors have not optimised the contribution they can possibly make in the fight against corruption, both within the respective sectors and as part of the collaborative mechanism (the National Anti-corruption Forum). The challenge remains to define and operationalise the respective contributions of the sectors and its many constituent parts. In order to provide credibility to the Forum, it will be required to raise the levels of its visible contribution to the fight against corruption based on a programme of action. Related to this is the need to generally effect public mobilisation and awareness against corruption, as well as awareness of the successes of the Forum and the respective sectors.
  4. Government sees opportunity to further optimise and improve on the co-ordination arrangements that exist between the different agencies and departments that perform anticorruption roles. Governments 2004-study into the implementation of minimum anticorruption capacities in departments at national and local level does show areas that require national support, mainly around implementation of whistleblowing mechanisms and information systems.
  5. While Government has complied with the mandatory requirements of the United Nations Convention against Corruption, there are some matters of the Convention that need to be assessed and transformed into implementation plans. An example is the article of the Convention relating to the private sector that deals with matters such as co-operation with law enforcement bodies, conflict of interest measures and accounting arrangements.
  6. At operational level of preventing and combating corruption, new challenges arise on an ongoing basis and need to be responded to. Examples are the emergence of cyber crimes and ongoing permutations of known scams.
  7. Government will continue to address the above challenges as part of its ongoing anti-corruption work but foresees that the work would compliment a national anticorruption initiative.

Conclusion : Corruption Overview Currently
  1. Corruption in the public sector continues to impact on governments ability to ensure adequate service delivery to the public, and also impacts adversely on the national security of the Republic. Corruption remains particularly problematic at provincial and local government levels, with recent demonstrations and instability against local government service delivery illustrating the extent of public dissatisfaction with corruption. Progress has been made on the national level in developing legal frameworks with advanced provisions to address corruption, although implementation is neither uniform nor sufficiently comprehensive.
  2. In the ten years since the advent of democracy, South Africa has developed an advanced infrastructure and framework of law, strategy and institutions with a mandate to combat corruption. Specialised anti-corruption institutions with a constitutional remit to support the democratic dispensation have been created, and the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act has been promulgated, among others.
  3. Corrupt activities nonetheless continue to take place in many government departments at national, provincial and local level. Currently, concerns relate specifically to government officials in the Criminal Justice Sector, the Department of Home Affairs and the Department of Social Development due to the impact of their activities on service delivery and good governance. Many of these officials can often be linked to members of organised crime syndicates or criminal networks, both local and foreign. Further, corrupt officials in these and other government departments are often linked to corrupt officials in other government departments, often across provincial boundaries.
  4. The ongoing involvement of senior government officials in incidents of mismanagement and unethical behaviour remains cause for concern. These senior officials continue to ignore, or fail to adhere to rules and regulations. They also abuse the authority vested in them by intimidating and threatening junior officials when the latter wish to report irregularities. In many instances, anti-corruption measures adopted by the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) or the Public Service Commission (PSC) are not enforced or implemented. The prominent media coverage that these incidents receive enforces negative perceptions among the public as to the extent of corruption in the public sector.
  5. Although discipline in the public sector has improved, pockets of ill discipline continue to undermine efforts to implement anti-corruption measures. Officials suspected of corruption are often allowed to continue with their corrupt activities and are not dealt with in a speedy and effective manner. Although explanations such as poor investigative work, restrictions placed on government departments by current labour laws, and poor internal mechanisms are often citied, hesitation to act swiftly against implicated officials does exist.
  6. A further factor contributing to mismanagement, corruption, and poor service delivery is the broad lack of adequate line-functional training of government officials. A number of departments lack a coordinated training policy, with training being given on an ad-hoc basis. Government officials are also not always made aware of risks present in their working environment, or extraneous risks that may impact on their line function.
  7. Corrupt and unethical activities continue to manifest in the private sector, in many cases where there is an interface with the public sector. Individuals in private institutions and companies often bribe government officials or provide other incentives in order to obtain tenders and government contracts. This is an issue that requires in-depth investigation and research to obtain a comprehensive picture of the current extent of the phenomenon.
  8. Although South Africa has laid the foundations, it is still an anti-corruption construction site and will remain so as long as corruption remains a global phenomenon.
  9. Government is, however, proud of its contribution to creating a sound and efficient anti-corruption framework. Through partnership, nationally in the Forum and regionally and internationally with other partners, such as international public organisations, donors and partner countries, the current framework can be improved and the fight against corruption intensified.

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Annexure: Progress Report on Implementation of Summit Resolutions
Resolution Status report
Combating corruption
  • A review and revision of legislation.
  • Establishment of a whistleblowing mechanisms
  • Speedy enactment of the Open Democracy Bill
  • Establishment of special courts to adjudicate on corruption cases
  • Establishment of Sectoral Coordinating Structures (broadly classified as Public Sector, Civil Society and Business)
  • Establishment of a National Coordinating Structure to lead, coordinate, monitor and manage the National Anti-Corruption Programme
  • Prevention and Combating of
  • Corrupt Activities Act, 2004
  • Protected Disclosures Act commenced on 16 February 2001.
  • Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2000. Privacy element of Open Democracy Bill currently with SA Law Commission.
  • A specialised commercial crimes court and prosecuting unit was established as a pilot in Pretoria in 2000, and has been rolled out.
  • Anti-corruption Coordinating Committee established for Public Sector in 2002.
  • National Anti-Corruption Forum established in June 2001.
Preventing corruption
  • Blacklisting of individuals, businesses and organisations who are proven to be involved in corruption
  • Establishment of Anti-Corruption Hotline
  • Establishment of Sectoral and other Hotlines
  • Disciplinary action against corrupt persons
  • Consistent monitoring and reporting on corruption
  • Promotion of and implementation of sound ethical, financial and related management practices.
  • Arranged in the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act, 2004. Government has in principle approved that corrupt employees be blacklisted from employment in the public service, and this system will be implemented once the legal issues have been resolved.
  • National Public service Anticorruption Hotline System established in 2004 (0800 701 701)
  • Disciplinary codes revised and being applied.
  • Country Corruption Assessment report published in 2003. Budget Vote of Department of Public Service and Administration contains Subprogramme: Anti-corruption Monitoring and evaluation wef April 2006.
  • New Public Service Regulations and Public Finance Management Act of 1999 contain elements. Honesty and Integrity is a defined competency identified for the Senior Management Service (SMS) of the public service. New Supply Chain Management Framework issued with strong anticorruption measures. Training programmes to support implementation have been launched.
Building Integrity and raising Awareness
  • Promotion and pursuance of social research and analysis and policy advocacy to analyse causes, effects and growth of corruption
  • Enforcement of Code of Conduct and Disciplinary
  • Codes in each sector
  • Inspiring the youth, workers and employers towards intolerance for corruption
  • Promotion of training and education in ethics
  • Sustained media campaigns to highlight aspects of the strategies
  • Country Corruption Assessment report is first step. Impact assessment of national policies budgeted for in 2006/07 financial year (contained in Estimate of National Expenditure).
  • Public Service Code of Conduct, new Disciplinary Code and practical guideline on the Code of Conduct are in place. Codes on Corporate Governance in place for SOEs
  • No particular strategy in place as yet for youth. Within employment relationship, departments have commenced with anti-corruption awareness programmes
  • Workshops on the Code of Conduct were conducted by the PSC. Ethics incorporated in public service training offered by the South African Management Development Institute
  • Ongoing activity.


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