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YCLSA: Statement by Khaye Nkwanyana, Deputy National Secretary of the Young Communist League, on lifestyle audits (08/03/2010)

8th March 2010

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The recent call by COSATU supported by the Young Communist League, on the need to audit lifestyles of leaders, government officials and political office bearers in government at all levels has generated necessary debate. It is in the first instance, important to dispel the notion created in some quarters that this particular call is pregnant of a witch hunt and therefore, from this conceived unfounded basis, it must be defeated. A careful survey of those who are the leading voices in taking this posture are unwittingly laying bare their agenda which therefore, in return, degenerates their counter argument against the lifestyle audit . The only conclusion that one arrives at, is the fact that they are mobilizing against it because there are guilty of this practice. The 12th congress of the SACP made an important pronouncement for the need to separate the intersection between business and the public office; this is to say those who are public representatives must not be allowed to be in business simultaneously. This dualism must not be seen as a mere democratic right. We totally agree with the Party but more qualification suffices in this regard. It is a matter of historical fact that many of our comrades that we were in the same trenches with in defense of comrade Zuma since his dismissal in 2005; our solid support in his marathon legal defense and the mobilization towards Polokwane Conference, were far from what we wanted to achieve in the post Mbeki era in terms of social transformation. Essentially, for them, the struggle against Mbeki was personal than a principled one as it was with the left. The facade has been lifted. Alas, with a greater stampede, is a move to crowd out the cream on top of the cake! We are calling for a policy that bans anyone and at whatever level of the state to be in business. Anyone making a conscious choice to accept a position in government must do so with these implications fully comprehended. Any interest in the private sector must mean an absence of choice in continuing with government as a salaried person. We refuse to be intimidated by shortage of skills in the public service and therefore a potential for more skills flight to the private sector. There is nothing insurmountable and skills are a product of investment to their production they are not spontaneous. But again we know that the trend is to normally register companies through spouses and other next of kin`s. Again this policy must find a way of imposing certain limitations such as illegalizing spouses and other next of kin in getting contracts from government at all levels. In this context of banning leaders and employees of government we mean the following government and other statutory bodies:
• Chapter 09 institutions.
• State Utilities, Development Finance Institutions and other Agencies.
• Departments and
• Local government including agencies at that level.
Cooling- Off Policy The second dimension relates to those who leave government for business in the context of forming their companies other than being appointed into those companies (which is different than acquiring a shareholding status). The decision on the cooling-off period need to be worked out as part of this policy than a stand alone framework. At least three years is adequate as a cooling off. Five years cooling off must apply to the official and a public office bearer who wants to do business in the sector that befell under his/her political and administrative oversight during public office occupancy. These are the important measures of creating palpable wedge between business interest and public service interest, and in the process addressing all forms of corruption in this area. In addressing corruption in the public service we cannot afford to be liberal and just tinker in the fringes in our introduction and therefore enforcement of measures in this regard. A radical approach is needed so that those who see government as a fertile ground for accumulation are left with none of the choices. Evidence is out there about the relationship between shoddy service delivery and running of businesses particularly chasing of tenders. This is not about senior government officials only. As an example, some teachers have tenders for school nutrition for more than four or five schools. Their concentration and focus in teaching and preparing for Learners is divided into overseeing outside business of food orders and distribution; this results in bad quality education to Learners. So this hogging of two opposite lanes must be defeated if we are to win the war against corruption and the exploitation of political power to amass resources that in turn finance our lifestyles beyond our means. For leaders, these ill-begotten resources that finance their lifestyles create political elites that at most, gradually, live higher up than those it claims to lead and become less committed to the struggle for social transformation. The notion of "I never struggled to be poor" comes from these basis that one must first enrich himself than the nation will follow. Our support for the lifestyle audit will assist in that no one will accumulate wealth in a manner that is not procedurally normal. Forces of darkness and the underworld tend to target policy makers and influential politicians by distributing wealth and patronage for their long term sordid operations. They lobby through these tactics of patronage and policy-makers succumb at the expense of a nation`s sovereignty; at times to the damage of national security. Some leaders are in the wallets of some corporate citizens. SARS whilst important still needs a policy that will then strengthen it or give effect to the formation of a new watchdog that will sporadically and periodically conduct audits to all of us. Conclusion The ANC fifth pillar commits all of us to fight fraud and corruption. The SACP in its first Central Committee after elections in 2009 committed all its cadres to take a lead in fight corruption at all spheres of society. This had to be predicated by COSATU congress in September 2009, where commitment to fight corruption and crass materialism was adopted. All progressive forces must hold hands in fighting this scourge without any vacillation. The danger with being timid is that corruption will ultimately be accepted as a societal factor that is normal and for everyone to aspire to be a practitioner in this field. And indeed, to the revolutionaries, it will be seen as a new pillar of the NDR!

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