Jul 13, 2012
Corruption Watch eyes risks in SA’s R850bn infrastructure planBack
Africa|Business|Defence|Design|Industrial|Systems|Technology|Africa|South Africa|Energy|Energy Programme|Online Portal|Systems|David Lewis|Infrastructure
Executive director David Lewis tells Engi- neering News the programme, which government aims to use to stimulate industrial devel- opment, create jobs and accelerate growth, needs to be designed in such a way that it does not become a “hot spot” for dishonest activities and unscrupulous opportunists.
It is acceptable, from a policy perspective, to pay a higher price for local content that could yield jobs, skills and introduce new technology. But Lewis says that price will only be worth paying in a context where there is sound governance and transparency of the cost and benefits. Otherwise, there is a risk that companies may establish themselves “simply to grease the wheels”, which would leave society picking up the tab, while further eroding the citizenry’s already fragile trust in the public sector.
“What I know about the ‘arms deal’ is that it wasn’t so much local content, but local intermediation between foreign suppliers and the Defence Force that became corrupt – in other words, deriving local rents from facilitating connectedness between the seller and the buyer.”
The scale of the programme is the primary reason for Corruption Watch’s emerging interest in infrastructure. The energy programme alone, Lewis muses, could make the arms deal “look like a rounding error”.
The organisation is, thus, considering replicating an approach taken by a Russian online portal, which tracks tenders and invites comments on ‘irregularities’, particularly from losing bidders. Such profiling could provide an early warning of compromises in tender processes.
The organisation is also eager to recruit a programme manager with intimate knowledge of public tender processes so that its interventions are based on a sound understanding of the risks inherent in such processes.
Besides infrastructure, Corruption Watch, which has it roots in the Congress of South African Trade Unions, is also planning to consolidate its ‘engagement’ with the business community more generally.
Through this contract, it aims not only to highlight the threats associated with corrupt tender processes, but also to help raise awareness of the scourge, as well as debate about the potential remedies.
Lewis is particularly keen to tap into the internal communication channels of large business to extend the anticorruption message to both employees and customers. “We would like to put a more constructive spin on how corruption might be combated.”
The problem, currently, is that the risk- reward balance remains skewed in favour of the corrupt, evidenced, Lewis argues, by the fact that those engaging in such activities are often unafraid to flaunt the fruits of their ill-gotten gains through the purchase of new cars or other visible assets.
“It reminds me a little bit of the early days of the competition authorities,” the former Competition Tribunal chairperson adds. “Corrupt people feel so well protected . . . so certain that the risks of getting caught are really low, which leads them to leaving the most extraordinary evidence lying around.”
Therefore, even though the organisation has no statutory powers, such impunity has already created an opportunity for it to begin to expose corruption through basic desktop research and investigation.
In total, it has received over 2 000 complaints, ranging from corruption among traffic officers and Home Affairs officials to nepotism in appointments in small towns, which is resulting in allegations of budget pillaging.
It will work with the enforcement agencies where possible to secure evidence of corruption, but Lewis says a strong focus is mobilising opposition against the problem.
“There has to be robust prosecution and that has to be perceived as part of the risk . . . but you can’t solve this problem by serial acts of prosecution alone. There will always be more coming in the back door than you manage to get out the front door.”
Prosecutions should be complemented by “naming and shaming”, helping to design systems that disable corruption and the mobilisation of an “outraged citizenry”.
Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor
To subscribe email email@example.com or click here
To advertise email firstname.lastname@example.org or click here
Other News This Week News
Updated 5 hours ago The two spent-fuel pools at Eskom’s 1 800 MW Koeberg nuclear power station, in the Western Cape, will be full by 2018, increasing the urgency on the State-owned utility to begin pursuing alternative storage options. Koeberg has, over the past 32 years, accumulated a...
Updated 5 hours ago South Africa lacks the skills necessary to implement the government’s plan to build 9.6 GWe of new nuclear energy capacity, warns nuclear-qualified Quality Strategies International CEO David Crawford. “Apart from the concern about the affordability of the programme,...
Updated 5 hours ago Cybersecurity multinational Check Point has released its latest 700-series cybersecurity systems for small businesses, which draw on its international threat intelligence to provide up-to-date cybersecurity, says Check Point South Africa country manager Doros...
Recent Research Reports
Automotive 2016: A review of South Africa's automotive sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Automotive 2016 Report provides an overview of South Africa’s automotive industry over the past 12 months. The report provides insight into local demand and production, vehicle imports and exports, investment and competitiveness in the sector, as well...
Energy Roundup – April 2016 (PDF Report)
The April 2016 roundup covers activities across South Africa for March 2016 and includes details of a North Gauteng High Court Judge’s dismissal of a court application to postpone the 9.4% electricity tariff increase, which the National Energy Regulator of South...
Electricity 2016: A review of South Africa's electricity sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Electricity 2016 report provides an overview of South Africa’s electricity sector, focusing on State-owned power utility Eskom and independent power producers, electricity planning, transmission, distribution and the theft thereof, besides other issues.
Energy Roundup – March 2016 (PDF Report)
The March 2016 roundup covers activities across South Africa for February 2016 and includes details of the Department of Energy’s plans to announce the preferred bidders for the first tranche of the coal independent power producer procurement programme; the Council...
Steel 2016: A review of South Africa's steel sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Steel 2016 Report examines South Africa’s steel industry over the past 12 months. The report provides insight into the global steel market and and particularly into South South Africa’s steel sector, including production and consumption, main...
Construction 2016: A review of South Africa's construction industry (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Construction 2016 Report examines South Africa’s construction industry over the past 12 months. The report provides insight into the business environment; key participants; local demand; geographic diversification; corporate activity; black economic...
This Week's Magazine
Updated 6 hours ago The two spent-fuel pools at Eskom’s 1 800 MW Koeberg nuclear power station, in the Western Cape, will be full by 2018, increasing the urgency on the State-owned utility to begin pursuing alternative storage options. Koeberg has, over the past 32 years, accumulated a...
Updated 6 hours ago South Africa lacks the skills necessary to implement the government’s plan to build 9.6 GWe of new nuclear energy capacity, warns nuclear-qualified Quality Strategies International CEO David Crawford. “Apart from the concern about the affordability of the programme,...
Updated 6 hours ago Cybersecurity multinational Check Point has released its latest 700-series cybersecurity systems for small businesses, which draw on its international threat intelligence to provide up-to-date cybersecurity, says Check Point South Africa country manager Doros...
Updated 6 hours ago Daimler Trucks and Buses Southern Africa (DTBSA) saw a marked slip in new-vehicle sales in 2015 compared with 2014, with sales dropping from 5 897 units to 5 300 units. The decline came as the South African new truck and bus market declined from 31 558 units in 2014...
Updated 6 hours ago Group of 20 (G-20) economies threatened to penalise havens that don’t share information on their banking clients after the leak of the Panama Papers provoked a global uproar over tax evasion. The G-20 will consider “defensive measures” against financial centers and...