Africa

South Africa launches new unit to root out corruption in public service

Willful intent to steal from public purse unforgivable, says President Cyril Ramaphosa

Hassan Isilow   | 27.09.2021
South Africa launches new unit to root out corruption in public service

JOHANNESBURG

South Africa has launched a new unit to act against public servants involved in corruption, the president said on Monday.

The new Public Administration Ethics, Integrity and Disciplinary Technical Assistance Unit "will build capacity within public bodies to institute disciplinary proceedings in cases of misconduct and cooperate with other organs of state in holding those responsible to account," Cyril Ramaphosa said in his weekly column.

He said the unit will refer corruption cases to the government’s Anti-Corruption Task Team, and follow up with departments to ensure criminal cases involving public servants translate into disciplinary cases.

“The unit will monitor the conduct of lifestyle audits of public service employees. Where departments identify corruption and unexplained wealth, the cases will be referred to the South African Police Service," he added.

Ramaphosa said the move comes after it was found that thousands of public servants were illegally benefiting from the state, i.e. receiving social grants meant for the poor. "This willful intent to steal from the public purse is unforgivable," he said.

"Another important aspect of the Unit’s work will be institutionalising ethics and integrity in the ranks of the public service," he said, adding that "there must be equal focus on inculcating ethical behaviour, because what may not necessarily be illegal can be unethical and unbecoming of a public servant."

In Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2020 edition, South Africa is ranked 69th in the world on a score of 44/100.

According to findings of a recent survey by Afrobarometer, an independent research network, South Africans see corruption as worsening during President Ramaphosa’s tenure.

Meanwhile, ex-President Jacob Zuma, 79, is currently serving a 15-month sentence for failing to attend an inquiry into corruption during his nine-year presidency.

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