President Cyril Ramaphosa says over and above the regulations aimed at ensuring public servants don’t do business with the State, government is strengthening financial and HR processes as a deterrent to the practice.
He said this when he fielded questions in the National Assembly on Thursday.
“In the last month, the Ministers for the Public Service and Administration, Police, and Justice and Correctional Services have drafted a memorandum of understanding to better coordinate efforts that will lead to the investigation and prosecution of employees found to be conducting business with the State.
“While all wrongdoers must face the full might of the law, our priority is to ensure that corruption does not occur in the first place. We are therefore strengthening financial, human resource and other management systems to reduce the risk of unlawful conduct by any person in the public service,” he said.
This comes after media reports revealed that several public servants in the Eastern Cape were found to have been engaged in COVID-19 tenders in the Eastern Cape.
On Thursday, the President said one of the greatest challenges that the country is confronted with is the theft of public resources by those given the responsibility to manage and safeguard them.
“A priority at this moment is to address the concern that has been raised by our people about the involvement of political office bearers and public servants in the unlawful awarding of tenders and contracts to relatives and acquaintances.
“While most public servants are dedicated, diligent and law abiding, we nevertheless find that such practices are found in all spheres of government and in many public entities.
"A critical part of our efforts to root out all corruption – both in the public and private sectors – has been to rebuild our law enforcement agencies, to restore their integrity and credibility and provide them with the means to act against corruption.
“Over the last two years, significant progress has been made in strengthening institutions like the NPA [National Prosecuting Authority], the Hawks, SARS [South African Revenue Service], the SIU [Special Investigating Unit] and others so that they are able to detect, investigate and prosecute all acts of corruption.
“At the same time, we have worked to strengthen the measures inside government to minimise the potential for corrupt activities,” he said.
In 2016, government reviewed the Code of Conduct for Public Service employees to, among other things, prohibit public service employees from conducting business with the State, be it in a personal capacity or as a director in a company that conducts business with the State.
In 2019, the President extended this provision to the whole of the public administration, when Section 8 of the Public Administration Management Act, 2014 was brought into effect by means of a proclamation. This criminalised the act of public administration employees conducting business with the State.
“To ensure action against those who transgress these laws, systems have been put in place through the Personnel Salary System – PERSAL – and the Central Supplier Database to identify public servants who tender for contracts with the State,” said Ramaphosa.