By Kavisha Pillay

As we race up to the 2014 national elections, political parties are doing their best to convince the public that their party is best equipped to serve the country.

South African citizens are demanding action against corruption, seen as a stumbling block to growth and development, and consequently many parties have highlighted corruption fighting in their manifestos. For these potential leaders of our land, it’s an increasingly important issue that, they say, they will tackle and deal with effectively if they are elected into government.

We recently featured a story on the people’s alternative budget speech, an unofficial version of finance minister Pravin Gordhan’s national budget, and one that covers issues that the nation might want to hear from him. The document was prepared after consultation with economists, activists, social scientists and researchers – and communities all over South Africa.

Now is your chance to express your feelings on political parties’ anti-corruption stances, as, with your help and input, we put together a people’s manifesto on corruption fighting.

Owning the fight against corruption

All of the parties mentioned below offer some worthy solutions for eradicating corruption in South Africa. For some, these solutions may be just mere electioneering – but now is the time for all citizens to own the fight against corruption by getting directly involved in influencing and shaping anti-corruption policies.

Corruption Watch invites you to participate in and contribute to the People’s Anti-Corruption Manifesto, in which your voice, opinions and solutions can be heard. This is a call for the public to come together to draft and shape anti-corruption policies that will ensure a transparent and accountable government.

What would you like to see the government doing about corruption? Do you feel there’s too much talk and not enough action? What solutions would work in your community?

The discussion is happening now on Corruption Watch Connected. Once you arrive on the website, please register if you haven't done so yet, or log in, and join the Election Watch group. Be heard! Have your say! Join the fight against corruption!

Political parties have their eye on corruption

For your convenience we have put together a summary of what some of the parties say they will do to minimise and eradicate corruption in South Africa over the next five years. There are common threads in many cases, such as the prohibition of government officials from doing business with the state, special corruption courts, stricter tendering processes, harsher punishment for the guilty, and the prevention of those guilty parties from holding public office.

See how they measure up, and then join the discussion on Corruption Watch Connected:

African Christian Democratic Party

The ACDP aims to:

  • Ensure that the Protection of State Information law, or Secrecy Bill, is not used to prevent journalists, citizens and whistleblowers from exposing corruption by state departments;
  • Reintroduce the Scorpions and strengthen the Auditor-General, Public Protector, SAPS, Special Investigating Unit, Asset Forfeiture Unit, and National Prosecuting Authority, ensuring that these institutions are properly staffed and resourced, and protected from political interference;
  • Ensure that public officials who are accused of corrupt conduct are speedily prosecuted and not suspended indefinitely on full pay, as is the current practice. Where found guilty, individuals are held personally liable to refund the state;
  • Ensure that the National Treasury and Public Accounts Committees at all levels are exercising effective oversight over public finances, including state tenders.

African National Congress

The ANC aims to:

  • Intensify the fight against corruption in both public and private sectors;
  • Restrict public servants from doing business with the state, and hold these individuals liable for losses incurred as a result of corruption;
  • Pursue action against companies involved in bid-rigging and price fixing, and deal with past and current corruption in the infrastructure industry;
  • ANC members and public representatives are required to step down from leadership positions in the party, government or society if found guilty of corruption or crime by a court of law;
  • A centralised process, with all stakeholders, will be established to adjudicate on major tenders in all spheres of government. It will work with the chief procurement officer.

Agang

Agang wants to:

  • Introduce a minimum sentence of 15 years for any public official found guilty of corruption regardless of the financial amounts involved, as well as a life ban from working in the civil service;
  • Create a national register of public servants convicted of corruption;
  • Ban government officials and their families from conducting business with the state;
  • Impose post-employment restrictions on ministers and senior government officials in order to regulate the move through the ‘revolving door’ from government to business;
  • Pass a whistleblower law that rewards and protects the honest;
  • Require MPs and their families to disclose their financial interests to the public;
  • Train government officials and employees in anti-corruption practices so there are no excuses for non-compliance;
  • Introduce an entrance examination and clearly defined and articulated entrance standards for all incoming public servants.

Congress of the People

Cope wants to ensure that:

  • Conditions that facilitate NGO initiatives which aim to empower individuals and hold government accountable – such as anti-corruption watchdogs – are more effective and far-reaching, as well as being more accessible to the public;
  • There is a review of the Protection of State Information Bill so that it is not used to hide corruption or violate the rights of citizens;
  • Bypassing the Public Finance Management Act and the Municipal Finance Management Act harms our economy; this issue must therefore be fully addressed in order to stamp out corruption in all spheres.

Democratic Alliance

The DA intends to:

  • Stop tender corruption by allowing the public to attend meetings where decisions on tenders are taken;
  • Prevent public servants and their immediate families from doing business with the state;
  • Stop wasteful expenditure by government officials on luxury cars, fancy hotels and extravagant parties;
  • Disallow any person who has been convicted of corruption, fraud, theft or violent crime from holding public office;
  • Strengthen the mandates and capacity, and increase the budgets of anti-corruption bodies like the Public Protector, the Auditor-General and the Public Service Commission;
  • Initiate lifestyle audits to ensure that politicians and public officials are able to account for their wealth;
  • Establish an independent, effective and highly specialised, prosecution-driven anti-corruption unit (like the Scorpions used to be) to ensure that corrupt persons in both the public and private sector are caught and held to account.

Economic Freedom Fighters

The EFF says it will:

  • Increase, harness, and enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of governance institutions to avoid all forms of corruption;
  • Abolish the usage of private companies in fulfilling functions and duties that government has to fulfil;
  • Ban the usage of consultants and project management units as a basis of delivering government services;
  • Establish state administration courts to promptly respond to incidents of corruption and maladministration, with the aim of firing and blacklisting corrupt state employees and private companies, and recovering the money lost to corruption;
  • Introduce a minimum of 20 years’ sentence for all public officials convicted of corruption;
  • Protect the independence of the Public Protector, the Auditor-General and all anti-corruption institutions  to independently oversee government programmes;
  • Ban all public representatives and public servants from doing business with the state.

Inkhata Freedom Party

IFP plans to:

  • Prosecute those accused of corruption and make sure that the guilty serve their full sentences;
  • Investigate all cases of corruption and prosecute the offenders in a specially mandated corruption court;
  • Fire all law enforcement officers and public servants found guilty of stealing tax money and abusing their power;
  • Eradicate tender fraud by giving the National Treasury the means to monitor all supply chain management activities;
  • Enforce the Constitution and make Parliament review and punish dishonesty and inappropriate use of resources. This also means guaranteeing that the Auditor-General, the Public Protector, the National Prosecuting Authority and the Special Investigating Unit have the resources they require to investigate and prosecute suspected abuse.

Pan-Africanist Congress

The PAC intends to:

  • Tighten checks and balances at all levels of government by establishing stricter legislation, enforcing repercussions for mismanagement of funds, and dealing with financial reports timeously to identify problem areas;
  • Establish a special court to deal with corruption-related cases;
  • Encourage educational and public awareness-raising programmes about corruption and its prevention. This will be done at a secondary school level, as well as through the distribution of information that informs citizens of the problems of corruption and how to report such issues;
  • Conduct a periodical evaluation of the performance of the responsible enforcement agency every six months, as well as training law enforcers to fight corruption effectively by hosting training workshops, possibly in partnership with NGOs focussed on the same issue;
  • Enlist the support of donors such as UN agencies, local and foreign financial institutions, whistleblowers and the media in exposing and fighting corruption in its various forms;
  • Advocate for longer jail terms for persons found guilty of corruption.

United Democratic Movement

The UDM aims to:

  • Restore proper relationships between politicians and officials. The current culture of political interference in the daily administration of our government causes bureaucratic chaos and fuels corruption and tender fraud;
  • Introduce courts dedicated to handle cases of corruption and to swiftly eradicate corruption;
  • Root out the culture where corruption is celebrated and condoned;
  • Review the current tender system that currently makes it possible for bribery and corruption to flourish;
  • Take swift action against government employees found guilty of corruption.
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Read up on what the election manifestos of South Africa’s political parties say about corruption fighting – and then head over to Corruption Watch Connected to discuss the issue. What solutions would you propose?