Publication: The Star Issued: Date: 2004-07-09 Reporter: Moshoeshoe Monare

Civil Servants 'Making It Hard to Detect Corruption'



The Star

Date 2004-07-09


Moshoeshoe Monare

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Senior public servants are refusing to declare their assets, shares and other interests that could be in conflict with their employment contracts.

Their refusal, according to Wits University academic Professor Patrick FitzGerald, makes it difficult to detect corruption among public servants.

The Financial Disclosures of Heads of Departments and Certain Other Employees Regulations says "any employee who fails to disclose an interest ... or when disclosing an interest ... wilfully provides incorrect or misleading details, is guilty of a misconduct".

However, no action has been taken against 67% of senior public servants who refused to declare their interests.

Professor Stan Sangweni, chairperson of the Public Service Commission, said that of the 2 000 or so senior public servants, only about 600 registered in the past financial year.

"The response ... is far from satisfactory" Sangweni said.

"I think that in the (past year) we had recorded something like 33% responses on the part of the senior management staff to that assets register.

"Any senior management official who doesn't timeously declare his or her registerable assets is in breach of regulations ... It is up to the ministers then to institute (actions)."

The policy compels senior public servants to disclose:

FitzGerald, director of the Graduate School of Public and Development Management at Wits, said that if the country wanted to live up to good-governance ethics, disclosure should be enforced.

"It would be very difficult to know about conflict of interests among public servants and to deal with corruption. The disclosure will also ensure accountability among public servants," he said.

Sangweni said he would approach the cabinet to deal with the enforceability of the policy.

"We are also making recommendations to the cabinet to streamline the process. We realised that there are some bureaucratic processes that need to be streamlined."

Sangweni said Public Service and Administration Minister Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi's suggestion to have ethics officers in each department would help to ensure compliance.

However, directors-general contacted claimed their staff had declared their interests. But the directors-general as well as Sangweni refused The Star access to the register.

Sangweni said the policy did not allow the public to have access to the register, unless asked to do so by a court order.

With acknowledgements to Moshoeshoe Mohare and The Star.