The South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) is concerned by the revelation made in the Public Service Commission report to the National Assembly. The report exposes the extend to which public officials do business with the State, in respect of which these public officials fail to disclose their business interests as required by the law.
By the laws governing public services, public servants who are part of Senior Management in public service, must disclose their business interests so as to help public entities that manage and monitor public services to manage the conflict of interest amongst others.
In spite of the laws enacted to have Senior Management Service (SMS) of the public service disclosing their business interests, senior officials continue to benefit from the undisclosed business entities that do work with the state. The PSC report shows that members of SMS have generated about R 59 168 555 in undisclosed remunerative work in the financial year 2020/2021, and R66 309 686 in 2019/2020.
Whilst that senior public servants do business with the State and do not disclose their interests is gravely worrying, more disconcerting is the fact that no disciplinary measures are taken against them despite overwhelming evidence of such misconducts.
For SAFTU, the proof is in the pudding. The reason why disciplinary steps are not taken against senior government officials who are guilty of non-disclosure and those doing business despite being prohibited to do so by law, is because they or their friends are the very people leading the same organs that should discipline them.
Senior government officials, or those in positions of power at lower institutional levels that have businesses that do business with the state, are partly the source of corruption in the procurement process of government. Even though these individuals may not be directly involved in the department where their businesses are awarded tenders, it is probable that their companies win such tenders on the basis of connections and political influence.
In this context where relevant government bodies within and outside these departments fail to discipline these offenders, the chances of holding people accountable and salvaging the 35% to 40% of government procurement budget that is being lost to tendering fraud and outsourcing corruption are slim.
SAFTU calls on the State to
• move swiftly against its officials who by law are prohibited from doing business with the State, but continue to do so.
• ensure that those who do not disclose their business interests and as a result remuneratively benefit from such business in their dealings with the State, pay back all the proceeds from that remunerative work.
In addition, we demand that government move seriously against all forms in the public and private sector, trial them and sentence them to medium-to-long terms of imprisonment. Corruption in the public sector come at the great cost to poor people who depend on public services for healthcare, education, protection and social security.