6 June 2013
Public Service and Administration Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has urged ordinary South Africans and Parliamentarians to get behind a proposed bureau to tackle corruption in the public sector, which the department hopes to have up and running next month.
The proposal to set up the Anti-Corruption Bureau is contained in the Public Administration Management Bill, which was published for comment on Friday.
Responding to questions in Parliament in Cape Town on Wednesday on how the department would ensure the credibility of the bureau, Sisulu said there were no shortcuts to achieving this.
“It is only when we show the country that we are determined to deal with this scourge … [that we will] be able to create the necessary credibility … There are no shortcuts,” Sisulu told Parliament’s portfolio committee on public service and administration
Sisulu’s department hopes to appoint a high-profile person to head the unit.
MPs also raised concern about the funding available in the department’s budget, with R6-million in seed money having been allocated to help set up the bureau, falling short of the R17-million the department says is required to fund its first year of operation.
Sisulu said she hoped that the department would be able to persuade the National Treasury to make more funds available, particularly as the bureau would be able to save the government millions by cutting down on corruption and helping to recover money gained through corrupt practices.
The bureau was modelled on the Anti-Corruption Bureau of Tanzania, which Sisulu said was effective because it was able to access data from various agencies and entities to combat corrupt activities. The Tanzanian bureau also conducts a review of state tender procedures.
The department’s existing anti-corruption unit, said Sisulu, had not proved successful, because of a lack of capacity and because it lacked the necessary legal authority.
Mokete Mahapa, the department’s deputy director-general of governance and international relations, said the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) had seconded officials to the bureau. So far, 604 presiding officers had been trained – exceeding the department’s target of 200.
Mahapa said the bureau would conduct investigations and institute disciplinary proceedings, working with law enforcement agencies such as the SIU and National Prosecuting Authority, as well as the Financial Intelligence Centre and SA Revenue Service.
Criminal cases would be referred to the law enforcement agencies. A case management system would allow officials to monitor the progress of cases to ensure that they were finalised speedily.
The bureau would also provide technical assistance and advisory support to deal with disciplinary matters in public administration, while ensuring that uniform disciplinary standards applied across the public sector.
An agreement was already in place with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to ensure that whistleblowers are protected, Mahapa added.
The minister’s legal adviser, Menzi Simelane, noted that whistleblowers who felt threatened could be referred to the police’s witness protection programme.