On Friday 31 August, Corruption Watch put forward its submission on the National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS) to the Anti-Corruption Inter-Ministerial Committee. In recent weeks the organisation conducted its own workshops to raise awareness of the existence of the NACS among communities, civil society organisations and business, in the interests of ensuring a genuine process of consultation.  These engagements provided useful inputs into the recommendations, as did the results of a public survey, and the opinions of anti-corruption experts consulted for this purpose.

The origin of the NACS can be traced to the 2016 UK Anti-Corruption Summit, where the South African government committed itself to reducing levels of corruption in the public and private sectors by way of developing a comprehensive strategy and supporting implementation plan.

Corruption Watch’s campaign to encourage meaningful public engagement around the contents of the NACS underpins its objective to ensure that the final document is not only developed and owned by residents of South Africa, but that it incorporates the voice of the people, and that the nine pillars and their related programmes are developed in accordance with people’s needs.

In this way, the very same people who contributed to NACS can be empowered to hold government accountable for the final strategy.

Corruption Watch also strongly recommends that the president takes ownership of the NACS and accepts accountability for its implementation. In the current political climate, it will boost public confidence and aid societal buy-in of the strategy, as well as anti-corruption initiatives on a whole, if the president openly endorses the NACS and calls for support across all sectors to ensure that the vision of the strategy is achieved.

The process of raising awareness of the NACS in communities, including Alexandra in Gauteng, Mogwase in North West and Khayelitsha in the Western Cape, brought to light the fact that very few, if any at all, had even heard of the strategy prior to Corruption Watch’s visit. The importance of whistle-blowers in rooting out corruption was also discussed at these meetings, and linked to this is the need for behaviour change to reduce the stigma associated with blowing the whistle. As a result, the organisation also recommends stricter protection of whistle-blower identities.

Regarding corruption in the public sector, the creation of internal anti-corruption units within each government department would go a long way towards exposing graft in the sector.

Another area of focus in the recommendations is the complicity of some private sector firms and professional bodies who have sometimes facilitated corrupt practices, for instance in the unfolding evidence around state capture. Professional bodies should therefore be required to have stringent accountability mechanisms in place to enforce full compliance of their members, and to hold accountable those who do not comply.

For some time Corruption Watch has called for greater transparency in appointment processes, in particular of section 9 and 10 constitutional bodies, anti-corruption and law enforcement agencies and the boards of state-owned enterprises (SOEs). Central to this recommendation is the opportunity for public participation and scrutiny of the selection processes, which would greatly improve public confidence in these key positions.

One of the important outcomes of the engagement with the rural mining community of Mogwase was the prevalence of corruption in mining-related issues. Of particular concern to the community was the lack of a suitable mechanism to report traditional leaders and matters related to customary law.  Coupled with this is Corruption Watch’s own work focusing on mining royalties, and the system’s vulnerability to corruption practices. As a result, the organisation recommends that corruption in the mining sector, with its unique manifestation, be established as a separate pillar of the NACS, and that specific programmes be established and implemented to address the loopholes.

The central place of SOEs in state capture, as recently evidenced, requires special attention. Corruption Watch’s recommendations call for an additional pillar to ensure better governance, appointment of leaders and board members, and for proper procurement management.

Political party funding is another area where Corruption Watch has made significant input, and although the recent passing of the bill is to be welcomed, the organisation nonetheless calls for proper formulation of the regulations, and the establishment of institutions able to drive timely implementation of the legislation.

The significance of ‘petty’ corruption also receives attention, as this form of corruption impacts the delivery of basic public services and the lives of ordinary South Africans. For this reason, Corruption Watch motivates that another separate pillar be incorporated into the NACS in order to address this widespread form of corruption.

A final recommendation relates to ensuring more effective and far-reaching communication of an important strategy that has the potential to assist the country in dealing with the pervasiveness of corruption. Corruption Watch believes that a more innovative approach to communication that also embraces relationships with partners would go a long way towards broader public engagement and participation.

For more information contact:

Phemelo Khaas:             phemelok@corruptionwatch.org.za        083 763 3472