Corruption Watch recently made submissions on the Public Administration Management Bill, calling for an outright ban on civil servants doing business with the state, a cooling off period when an individual moves from the public to private sector, and prohibiting re-employment within the state if an individual is fired for corruption-related misconduct.
The draft law, opened for comment by Public Service Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, seeks to replace the existing Public Service Act and improve the organisation, management and functionality of the public service at municipal, provincial and national level.
By addressing existing weaknesses in the country’s public administration, the draft law aims to make it more difficult for unscrupulous public servants and business people to use state tenders for their personal enrichment.
Corruption Watch expressed its general support for the Bill in its submissions, and provided views on select sections, including:
- Prohibiting public officials from conducting business with the state;
- Restricting remunerative work outside the public service;
- Introducing a ‘cooling-off’ period;
- Continuing proceedings against public officials who resign before they are disciplined;
- Prohibiting re-employment if public servants are dismissed for misconduct;
- The new anti-corruption bureau.
In particular, Corruption Watch proposes extending the ban on civil servants doing business with the state to include their immediate family members.
While we welcome the draft law placing restrictions on public officials doing work on the side, Corruption Watch calls for effective monitoring of this to ensure compliance.
The introduction of a “cooling-off” period before certain public officials can enter the private sector is also welcomed, as this will prevent officials manipulating tenders to favour a firm they intend on joining once it has secured government contracts.
Corruption Watch is in favour of continuing proceedings against state employees who have been charged with disciplinary offences – even if they resign before the proceedings have been concluded. We also suggest an amendment to this section of the draft law, making it mandatory to continue the proceedings even when this public servant begins work at a new department or state entity.
Corruption Watch also supports the ban on re-employing public officials who have been dismissed for misconduct elsewhere. If an employee has been convicted for corruption-related misconduct, we suggest this prohibition should be permanent.
The proposed setting up of an anti-corruption bureau to deal with corruption-related misconduct in the public sector gets the thumbs up from us too, but we’d like to see more clarity in the Bill on how this bureau will function.
Corruption Watch will continue to follow the progress of this legislative process to ensure steps are taken towards building a more accountable and transparent public service.