In a bid to amend the Public Service Act, South Africa’s Public service and Administration minister, Lindiwe Sisulu, has recommended that civil servants be banned from conducting business with the state government.
Sisulu said it is time public servants chose between serving the state and being in private business.
“We are very worried about the incidents or overlap of people doing business with the State (when they) are employed by the State. I think that if we cut that umbilical cord, we might succeed in making sure that we are creating a cadre of the public service who is concerned and only concentrating on the job and not doing the job but at the same time benefiting from the State,” Sisulu told Sunday Times in an interview.
The Minister also called for those found guilty of fraud, corruption or financial mismanagement to be blacklisted and barred from working for any government department.
“We are working on finding ways in which this is possible, if it’s a way that is required we will pass a law,” she said.
The issue of civil servants benefiting from government procurement has been a major source of worry in South Africa since 2010 when it was highlighted by the country’s Auditor-General (AG) that tenders worth more than R624 million ($69.8 million) went to companies with links to civil servants, their spouses or family members.
Sisulu added that her department would keep a database of all government officials found guilty of this charge.
There has been concern within and outside government about officials who resign from one department to join another as soon as they are under internal investigation for fraud.
“You will be recorded, in local terminology it is called blacklisted … you will be there and you will be unemployable because you’ve been found guilty of serious fraud and corruption. This is one of the ways in which we are going to be able to deal with this matter,” she said.
Sisulu intends to set up an office of standards compliance in her department that would be headed by a “super-director-general” whose job would be to make sure director-generals and provincial heads of department deliver on their duties.
Meanwhile, South Africa’s Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) has lauded Sisulu’s move.
According a statement released and signed by the union’s National Spokesperson, Patrick Craven, “COSATU has been campaigning for years for a ban on public servants holding directorships or being involved in companies that do business with the state.”
COSATU hopes these moves will help stop the looting of public funds by State employees and will do everything possible to assist the minister to implement her proposals and strike a blow against the scourge of corruption.