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SA: Nonhanhla Mkhize: Address by the Mpumalanga Director-General, on the occasion of observing International Anti-Corruption Day, Mpumalanga (07/12/2012)

12th December 2012

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Programme Director,
Heads of Departments,
Heads of Parastatals,
Major General Mapyane,
Senior Management of the province,
Members of the Audit Committees,
Our Sponsors – Standard Bank and FNB,
Members of the Anti-Corruption Initiative,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen.

Introduction

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Today we are all gathered here to observe the International Anti-Corruption Day, which is commemorated on 9 December every year, that is, two days from today.

Background to the day

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As a way of background as well as for the benefit of those who are not aware as to how the day came about, allow me to take you back to 2003 when the United Nations took a decision to mark and observe 09 December as an International Anti-Corruption Day.

In the light of growing incidents, complexity and negative impact of corruption globally, the United Nations (UN) acknowledged that preventing and combating corruption would require a multidisciplinary approach. The Member States of the UN negotiated what was then called the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC).

UNCAC became the first global legally binding international anti-corruption instrument. According to UNCAC, Party States are required to implement a wide and detailed range of anti-corruption measures which may affect their laws, institutions and practices. These measures were aimed at preventing corruption, criminalizing certain conducts, strengthening international law enforcement and judicial cooperation, providing effective legal mechanisms for asset recovery, technical assistance and information exchange.

UNCAC was drafted on 31 October 2003 and was signed on 09 December 2003 by 140 signatories, but it only came into effect on 14 December 2005. I am proud to state that South Africa was one of the first signatories. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) was since entrusted with the promotion and implementation of the Convention. As of 31 October 2012, the number of signatories had risen to 164.

In a nutshell this is how the International Anti-Corruption Day came about. It is important to take note of the fact that UNCAC was never reduced to an international Convention which was then filed away. For the successful implementation of UNCAC, it had to be disseminated to the various continents, sub-continents, countries, provinces and local municipalities, if you like.

The effects of UNCAC-African continent and the regional level

At the continental level, we’ll briefly touch on few initiatives such as the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). This is a “pledge by African leaders, based on common vision and a firm shared conviction, that they have a pressing duty to eradicate poverty and to place their countries, both individually and collectively, on a path of sustainable growth and development and, at the same time, to participate actively in the world economy and body politic”.

Its objective is to promote throughout the participating countries a set of concrete and time bound programmes aimed at enhancing the quality of economic and financial management, as well as corporate governance. The second initiative is the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), which is a mutually agreed programme, voluntarily adopted be member states of the African Union (AU), to promote and re-enforce high standards of governance.

It focuses on political, economic, corporate governance and socio-economic development. Last, but not least is the African Parliamentarians Network Against Corruption (APNAC).

Its objectives include among others:

(i) capacity building of the Members on issues of governance
(ii) equip Members with requisite tools and support on governance and corruption
(iii) contribute to the sensitization of members of the public on issues of good governance and anti-corruption
(iv) contribute to the national, sub-regional and international reflection on the issues of governance and corruption.

At the sub-regional level, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) created an important regional anti-corruption legislation which came to be known as the SADC Protocol Against Corruption. Its focus has been to strengthen the anti-corruption preventative, investigative, and prosecutorial capacities in the region.

Country Level - South Africa

Zooming straight into South Africa and its contribution towards the successful realisation of UNCAC, below are some of our success as a country in dealing with corruption.

In 1997, three years into the new democratic dispensation, the African National Congress (ANC) led Government initiated measures to combat and prevent corruption. This was even before the (UN) United Nations decided to do something concrete about corruption. We initiated an anti-corruption campaign which led to the National Anti-Corruption Summit in April 1999, involving both private and public sectors.

Our action was an acknowledgement that as government on our own, we will never win the war against corruption. As a result, we needed a multi-disciplinary approach involving partnerships with all sectors of our society. We needed the critical mass and commitment by everyone to successfully fight corruption.

The Summit culminated in the formation of the National Anti-Corruption Forum, comprising government, civil society and business. All these became possible because of a strong political commitment from the ANC government, which has not fizzled away, by the way. From 1994, starting with our Constitution we managed to put in place progressive legislation and anti-corruption measures, which included, but not limited to the following:

  • The Constitution of the Republic of SA, 1996
  • he Prevention & Combating of Corrupt Activities Act, (No. 12 of 2004)
  • The promotion to Access to Information Act (No. 2 of 2000)
  • The Promotion of Administrative Justice Act (No. 3 of 2000)
  • Protected Disclosure Act (No. 26 of 2000)
  • The Public Finance Management Act (No. 1 of 1999)
  • Municipal Finance Management Act (No. 56 of 2003)
  • Financial Intelligence Centre Act (No 33 of 2001)
  • Public Service Code of Conduct
  • Batho Pele Principles
  • Public Service Anti-Corruption Strategy

Not only did we put in place the requisite regulatory framework to effectively deal with fraud and corruption, in both the public and private sectors space. But, we also created institutions to fight the scourge of corruption such as the courts of law, National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), Special Investigative Unit (SIU), Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFA), Hawks, South African Revenue Services (SARS), Public Protector, Auditor-General, Office of the Public Service Commission (OPSC) and etc.

All these have been established to deal with corruption both from a pro-active and re-active perspective, in order to send a clear message that corruption will not be tolerated.

Programme Director, ladies and gentlemen, allow me to remind you about the manifestations of corruption, which include inter alia:

  • Fraud
  • Bribery
  • Embezzlement
  • Extortion
  • Abuse of power
  • Favouritism
  • Nepotism
  • Conflict of interest
  • Insider trading/ abuse of privileged information

I am deliberately reminding you about these dimensions as public servant so that when you find yourself commit any of these or are about to commit any of these, you know that your action will be classified as an act of corruption. Not only have we introduced these acts, policies and etc, but we have successfully tested their effectiveness, and all of us can attest to this.

Mpumalanga province

Programme Director, ladies and gentlemen after spending time on showing the link from the international, continental, regional and country levels, allow me to bring you back home, i.e.  Mpumalanga, the Province of the rising sun, as well as the home for the big five.

Before proceeding, let me remind you that in 2009 when the new administration came into place, five national priorities were identified which were cascaded to all province for implementation as well. Included in these, was the fight against crime and corruption, and it is against this background that we are relentlessly and uncompromisingly pursuing our fight against corruption.

It is also vital to be aware that by-and-large the success of the other four heavily relies on how we successfully deal with this particular one. Thus making the fight against corruption even more urgent and crucial.

This is further confirmed by the Honourable Premier, DD Mabuza’s pronouncement during the State of the Province Address (SOPA) on 19 February 2009 and the Office of the Premier’s Budget and Policy Speech on 24 May 2011 in which he said the following “Yes, we remain committed towards ensuring that the challenges relating to the creation of decent work, education, health, fighting crime and corruption do not escape our radar screen.” “We will continue to support the work of the Integrity Management Unit in the Premier’s Office to ensure that fraud and corruption cases are investigated and closed speedily.

Alongside this, we will support provincial departments and municipalities to build their internal capacity to investigate and deal with cases of fraud and corruption” respectively. It is against this background and subsequent actions we took as the Mpumalanga Provincial Government in consolidating our fight against corruption.

Successful Anti-Corruption initiatives

Programme Director, ladies and gentlemen, as we observe the International Anti-Corruption Day today, allow me to remind you about this year’s Theme ACT-Act Against Corruption Today. As the theme itself says, we need to act today and not tomorrow, if we are serious about fighting corruption.

We cannot afford to procrastinate since the effects of corruption on our citizens may take time to reverse or may not be reversible at all. Today I’m delighted to inform you that, as a province we’ve developed a Provincial Anti-Corruption Strategy, which is a product of intensive consultation between government and its social partners (labour, business & civil society).

The Strategy is providing a road map as to how we are going to go about jointly with our social partners in wage the war against corruption, both in the public and private sectors. It provides us with an opportunity to integrate anti-corruption efforts between ourselves and the local sphere of government. It also presented us with a chance to enhance our capacity and capability as government to ensure maximum prosecution on fraud and corruption cases. In order to obtain maximum benefit a number of structures have been set up.

At a strategic level we’ve a structure called the Mpumalanga Anti-Corruption Council, comprising government, labour, business and civil society. This is an advisory structure that will be chaired by the Premier. It will also be used as a vehicle to monitor whatever anti-corruption programme that would have been jointly agreed upon.

At an operational level there are two, viz. the Provincial Anti-Corruption Coordinating Committee (PACCC), comprising anti-corruption practitioners from all provincial departments as well as district municipalities. Mainly its purpose is to provide a platform for coordination of all provincial pro-active and re-active initiatives.

The third structure is called the Multi Agency Working Group/ Multi Agency Stakeholder Forum and consists of most of the law enforcement agencies, e.g. the Hawks, Special Investigating Unit (SIU), National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU), other Chapter 9 institutions and the IMU. Its main responsibility is to improve the resolution of criminal cases relating to fraud and corruption.

As a Province we continue to provide leadership in the anti-corruption space and these efforts have not gone unnoticed. The Public Service Commission (PSC) in its report released in March 2011entitled Report on the Profiling and Analysis of the most Common Manifestations of Corruption and its Related Risks in the Public Service bears testimony to this effect.

This report presents Mpumalanga as a Province that has concluded the highest percentage of cases investigated, that is 25%. This was for the period 01 September 2004 to 31 June 2010. Recently in November 2012, the PSC has released another statistics for the period 1 September 2004 until end August 2012 and this information indicates that we’ve improved to 56%, and still leading. All this work relates to all cases reported through National Anti-Corruption Hotline (NACH).

As part of our collaboration with the law enforcement agencies a total of >50 cases of fraud and corruption are currently investigated by Hawks. They involve provincial departments and local municipalities and all of them are tracked and monitored through the Multi Agency Stakeholders Forum (MASF). To date, in partnership with the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) and PALAMA we have trained + 200 officials in an Anti-Corruption course (NQF Level 5). We have target anti-corruption practitioners, security officials, officials in high risk units such as supply chain management, finance, human resource management, etc.

Once again, ladies and gentlemen, allow me to take this opportunity to re-commit government towards the fight against fraud and corruption. As government we undertake to flush out all public servants found guilty of corrupt activities, irrespective of who they are. To show our seriousness, some of you may know or have heard that we had recently effected few arrests right here within the government complex.

Therefore, I want to urge and challenge all public servants gathered here to do right even when no one is watching you, otherwise expect to be humiliated right in front of your peers and subordinates. As such, we will continue with our fight against fraud and corruption in an effort to discourage the would-be fraudsters as well as sending the message that crime does not pay.

As we do this, we’ll be making sure that we meet our quality service delivery obligations to all our citizens across the length and breadth of our Province and simultaneously enhancing the image of our Province so that we enjoy the confidence and trust of all its citizens through better and improved service delivery.

Challenges

Whilst we boosted the successes above, we would also acknowledge that there is still much to be done and some of our challenges involve:

  • Strengthening our investigative capacity within the Integrity Management Unit
  • Building in-house requisite capacity for the departments of Health; Education; Social Development; Agriculture, Rural Development & Land Administration; and Public Works, Road & Transport
  • Supporting local municipalities by creating requisite capacity to deal with fraud and corruption issues
  • Fast tracking the completion of the investigations
  • Improving the implementation of the recommendations, especially the institution of disciplinary measures by departments
  • Dealing decisively with issues of financial disclosures and performance of remunerative work by public servants
  • Operationalisation of the Mpumalanga Anti-Corruption Council, an advisory structure comprising government, labour, business and civil society.

The road ahead

Going forward we would like to ensure full implementation of the Provincial Anti-Corruption Strategy, by paying attention to the challenges, and sustain the good work we’ve reported above.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I would like to once again re-assure everyone here that we are still focused and determined to harshly deal with those officials who are involved in corrupt activities. For those officials who continue to display professionalism in the performance of their duties, showing commitment, dedication and due diligence, I want to say thank very much and continue to positively contribute to the integrity of the public service.

I urge everyone to become an eye for the other and report any incident of fraud and corruption, as this year’s theme for the International Anti-Corruption Day states: ACT – “Act Against Corruption Today” – lets live it day in and day out. For you to be able to ACT, you must know this number by heart - 0800 701 701, the National Anti-Corruption Hotline. This number guarantees your anonymity and that your case/ complaint will be investigated.

I thank you!

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