By Lyse Comins

The Gauteng Provincial Government has had a high number of disciplinary hearings due to alleged corruption and financial misconduct costing the state more than R4-million during the 2020/21 financial year.

According to the State of Public Service in Gauteng report presented to the provincial legislature, a total number of 56 cases of financial misconduct, at a cost of R4 627 440.52, were reported during the financial year.

Departments listed in the report include:

•Cogta- 5

• Community Safety- 1

• Education- 4

• e-Government- 1

• Health- 42

• Office of the Premier- 2

• Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation- 1

Democratic Alliance spokesperson on finance and e-government, Adriana Randall, ascribed the financial misconduct to a lack of effective consequence management. She said the party had been warning departments repeatedly during discussions about annual reports that the situation would worsen as long as consequence management remained as words on paper without any action.

“A long list of applicable legislation exists to assist in the curbing of financial misconduct but again as long as the political will is missing, no progress will be recorded. What is even more concerning is that no criminal action has been taken against any of the officials found guilty of financial misconduct,” she said.

According to the report, 56% of the officials found guilty were given a final written warning, while 16% were dismissed and the other 16% were given both a final written warning and summarily dismissed.

The 2020/21 financial year has recorded the highest value not recovered by departments since the 2016/17 financial year, totalling R3,019 879.44.

“This money was flushed down the drain, while some of these officials remains in public service where they can continue to defraud the State and waste taxpayers’ money,” she said.

Corruption investigations lead to additional costs for taxpayers

“To add further insult to injury we have noted that the department of infrastructure development appointed consultants to assist with investigations into allegations of financial misconduct. This means that more money is now being spent on consultants, with less funds available to improve the lives of residents,” she said.

The costs for employees currently suspended with pay due to pending disciplinary cases for the 2021/22 financial year are as follows:

• Community Safety- R174 156,50

• Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation- R1 959 522,52

• Social Development- R25 451,80

• Roads and Transport- R1 632 280,47

• Education – R2 153 956,41 with one employee on suspension for 683 days so far

“The only way in which officials can be deterred from such behaviour is if consequence management takes place which will prevent them from working in the public service again and if their names are added to a registry of public servants found guilty of financial misconduct,” Randall said.

“Even when people resign, this does not mean the disciplinary action now needs to fall away – consequences must still follow. In addition to this, their pension fund payments can be attached and is one of several options available to effectively recover the bulk of the money lost due to financial misconduct.”

She said financial misconduct and corruption should be dealt with in an appropriate manner to root out corruption to ensure taxpayers’ money is spent in the most cost-effective manner to ensure service delivery.

This article was originally published by The South African