Celebration of International Anti-Corruption Day


INTRODUCTORY REMARKS: BY DR RR MGIJIMA: CHAIRPERSON OF THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION
VENUE: SENATE HALL: UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH AFRICA
DATE: 9 DECEMBER 2010

INTRODUCTION

International Anti-Corruption Day is celebrated annually on the 9th of December in honour of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) which was signed in Mexico, in 2003. On this day recognition is given to the essential global leadership which was provided at the signing of the Convention where 95 countries took the anti-corruption pledge. These countries have since been joined by 45 more signatories bringing the total to 140 nations.

Around the world today, people will stand up and say, No! - To corrupt politicians, corrupt public servants and crooked companies. International Anti-Corruption Day recognises the devastating impact corruption has on the lives of millions around the world and honours the quiet acts of courage by individuals who are fighting corruption all over the world, against great odds, often at great personal expense. These individuals and organisations are keeping the flame alive and building the foundations towards a corrupt free society.

Is it not time that at this celebration we should begin to think of honouring past and present individuals and organisations that have brought about the change that we seek?

In countries rich and poor, in all regions and walks of life, diverse organisations and individuals are united in a common cause forcing action against the scourge of corruption. These people need to be recognised in our country. Why should anti-corruption champions and whistleblowers of good faith have to walk a lonely road, shunned and isolated? Nothing short of full recognition and idolization of whistleblowers and champions will take the fight against corruption to the desired level.

STRENGTHENING THE FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION

In South Africa some of the earliest initiatives to fight corruption have come through the efforts of the Public Service Commission (PSC). Throughout this period the PSC has had to address the need to promote integrity and develop ethical public servants. In order to achieve this, the PSC:
  • developed a Code of Conduct for the Public Service;
  • established the Financial Disclosure Framework for senior managers; and
  • managed the National Anti-Corruption Hotline since 2004.
The Code of Conduct: calls on officials to exercise their loyalty primarily to the Constitution, secondly in the public interest and thirdly to the government of the day. The Code of Conduct aims to ensure a level of maturity in a very competitive world where high standards of good governance provide a firm foundation for competing with other economies.

The National Anti-Corruption Hotline (0800 701 701): provides a safe, secure and anonymous mechanism for the public to report allegations of corruption in the public service. The Hotline has been in existence since 2004.

The Financial Disclosure Framework: is aimed at preventing conflicts of interest by requiring senior managers to disclose their financial interests. The rate of compliance has improved since the inception of the Framework. However, the PSC is of the view that only a 100% compliance rate would be acceptable.

In terms of future initiatives the PSC will take a look at the issue of lifestyle audits and continue to develop an Integrity Barometer for the Public Service.

A Lifestyle Audit is simply an amalgamation of reports from a variety of databases which would provide the PSC with a snapshot into certain aspects of the life of a government official. The areas usually covered in a basic lifestyle audit are properties, motor vehicles, company directorship information and credit histories. Using lifestyle audits the PSC would be taking the scrutiny process of financial disclosures forward, because, it may be used as a barometer of the extent to which fraud and corruption are prevalent in government departments. In the near future the PSC will be producing a concept document on lifestyle audits.

Integrity Barometer: An Integrity Barometer, as envisaged by the PSC is an instrument that will draw information on the state of integrity in the Public Service based on selected indicators and instruments designed to measure performance against such indicators. The indicators will be developed to measure levels of integrity against predetermined pillars of integrity in the Public Service. The Barometer will primarily draw factual information based on the application of integrity measures and the management of integrity systems by departments. However, it will also draw to some degree on perceptions of the state of integrity in the Public Service by public servants. Based on the information generated through the application of the indicators and instruments, conclusions may be drawn on the state of integrity in the Public Service.

In addition to these initiatives, we salute the Minister for the Public Service and Administration for establishing and launching his departments anti-corruption unit. This unit would mainly investigate the business dealings of officials within a department. The focus would be on undeclared business interests, failure to disclose these interests when doing business with government, work outside of the public service without permission and the soliciting or receipt of bribes during the course of official duties.

On previous occasions we have noted with appreciation the recently established anti-corruption task team which is a National Cabinet Cluster sub-committee on Justice, Crime prevention and Security. The Task Team has been set up to perform high priority criminal investigations in cases where R5 million in assets would be seized.

It is trusted that all these measures will deepen the fight against corruption in our country.

CONCLUSION

I would like to conclude by saying that at the heart of corruption lies dishonesty and illegitimacy. Corruption has no place in a constitutional democracy committed to transparency and accountability. There is no place for complacency, no room for blaming others and no space for ignorance. If we are to uplift our nation, ensure the development of the human potential of our people we have no choice but to promote integrity in which every person and institution has its part to play. The ultimate aim of good governance is to ensure:

The rule of law: whereby our people are confident that there is transparency and accountability at every level of our society be it the public arena, the business sector, civil society or labour.

Sustainable Development: whereby all people of South Africa have the right to reach their potential free of favouritism, inequality or corruption.

Quality of Life: whereby the people of our nation are proud to be residents of the Republic because of the integrity of the individual and the various institutions of our society.

I THANK YOU

 


 

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