State frets as corruption festers in SA

Johannesburg – Sixty percent of South Africa’s government departments have no anti-corruption policies in place or have sub-standard measures, a report by the Public Service Commission says. In its April 2011 Report on Profiling and Analysis of the Most Common Manifestations of Corruption and its Related Risks in the Public Service, the PSC found that the common forms in which corruption manifests itself in South Africa are fraud, bribery, mismanagement of public funds, and procurement and appointment irregularities. The PSC also found that current anti-corruption infrastructure tended to focus on investigation of allegations without prioritizing prevention and detection as well. The report, however, commended establishment of anti-corruption units in the offices of the country’s provincial premiers and some departments. While some departments performed regular risk assessments and analyses, the PSC found insufficient interface between risk management functions and anti-corruption units. This, the report says, resulted in inadequate extraction and analysis of corruption risks. The PSC said one of the areas of utmost concern was where officials had discretion to decide whether or not to investigate allegations. The report shows that departments are often lenient in taking disciplinary action against those found guilty of corruption. Rather, written and verbal warnings seem to be the order of the day. Disciplinary enquiries are also said to be taking longer than the required 60 days to be completed, even for minor offences. This turns out to be costly on the tax payer as suspended officials receive their full salaries. Former National Prosecuting Authority boss Vusi Pikoli believes South Africa lacks a coherent and comprehensive approach to fighting corruption. Speaking at a recent seminar at the University of South Africa in Pretoria, he said the latest figures showed that less than 15 percent of allegations were investigated. In attempting to explain corruption in post-apartheid South Africa, some observers have said that this is due to the fact that the country did not experience “a true revolution but a managed transition”. The institutions of state remained intact and the private sector was largely left untouched. During the transition, those who benefited from the corrupt apartheid political and business system entrenched their culture and those who came in fell into the trap. Business tycoons actively wined and dined the political elite and the new senior civil servants so as to protect their own financial interests and this could have made corruption endemic, some observers say.

May 2011
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