Publication: Cape Times Issued: Date: 2004-07-12 Reporter: Editor

The Case for Disclosure

 

Publication 

Cape Times

Date 2004-07-12

Reporter

Editor

Web Link

www.capetimes.co.za

 

At the root of most corruption is a conflict of interest. The public, therefore, needs to be reassured that the state's decision-makers have no stake in the institutions or companies they are dealing with.

But, as chairman of the Public Service Commission Stan Sangweni intimates, our country's senior civil servants, including directors-general, are refusing to declare their interests. In fact, 67% of them have unashamedly ignored requests to do so. This is despite their contracts of employment and the financial disclosures of heads of departments and certain other employees regulations exhorting them to declare. The implications of this are grave.

If senior managers fail to declare their interests and do not show commitment to good governance, how do we expect junior civil servants, generally poorly paid, to stay clear of corruption and observe the rules?

And this issue arises at a time when many people are still trying to come to terms with the fact that several members of parliament are implicated in a travel scam. No wonder confidence in "the system" is low.

But, most importantly, of what use are anti-corruption policies if they cannot be enforced? If we, as a country, are to fight corruption successfully, we need more than fine-sounding policies that gather dust in cabinets. We must go the whole hog.

It is important to point out, however, that failure to declare one's interests does not amount to corruption itself. However, the flagrant disregard for disclosure shown by some of the country's senior managers - the very people entrusted with dispensing billions of rands in government procurement - suggests they have something to hide.

That prompts the obvious question: if senior bureaucrats are not corrupt, why are they refusing to provide such information?

With acknowledgement to the Cape Times.