As government increases its efforts to prevent corruption in the public service, President Cyril Ramaphosa acknowledged on Monday that there was still a long way to go to instil a culture of ethics in the public service.
It was recently revealed that about 17 000 public servants had applied for and received the Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress grant meant for South Africans who are struggling financially owing to the pandemic.
Ramaphosa said the “wilful intent” to steal public funds is “unforgivable” and promised that government was increasing its efforts against wrongdoing in the public service.
He referenced the recently launched Public Administration Ethics, Integrity and Disciplinary Technical Assistance Unit which will undertake disciplinary action in cases of misconduct in the public service and refer cases to government’s Anti-Corruption Task Team.
“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. The new unit has already begun its work in earnest, helping to identify public servants involved in cases related to Covid-19 procurement, the special Covid-19 grant and Unemployment Insurance Fund fraud,” Ramaphosa said.
He stressed the importance of institutionalising ethics and integrity in the ranks of the public service revealing that the unit will also set norms and standards on ethics, integrity and conduct.
Over 200 people have been trained as presiding officers and initiators as the unit builds department capacity to discipline those found guilty of misconduct.
“As a number of scandals involving public servants illegally benefiting from the state have shown, the process will be difficult and will take some time. We are nonetheless committed to stay the course. A capable state is the foundation for the attainment of all our national priorities. Without improving accountability and promoting ethical conduct, none can be achieved. The vast majority of our public servants are committed, law-abiding and ethical,” Ramaphosa said.