International Anti-Corruption day address by Eastern Cape Premier, Ms Noxolo Kiviet
9 Dec 2011
Members of the Executive Council
Director General and Heads of Departments
Members of the Provincial Administration
Members of the media
Ladies and gentlemen
We are gathered here today, voting with our feet, in support of a growing international and national movement against fraud and corruption. We are joining millions of people in the world who have come together to declare that No to Corruption.
Today the government and people of the Eastern Cape are commemorating the eight anniversary of the International Anti-Corruption Day. We are here to take stock of progress made in fighting this scourge, to reflect on gaps that still exist, and to declare our unwavering commitment to soldier on with initiatives that could register the desired effect against this scourge.
Corruption is a silent killer that impoverishes millions of people across the world and in our province by delaying development progress, wasting resource that should have been channeled to help the poor and vulnerable.
The world is still reeling from a terrible economic crisis which was a result of essentially fraud and corruption of the highest order that manifested in highly developed economies with devastating consequences to poor and developing nations. Evidence shows that corruption hurts poor people disproportionately. No country, region or community is immune.
Records demonstrate that although greater focus is on corruption in the public sector, corruption involving government constitutes a much smaller portion of the broad scourge that ravages our society and its people. Corruption and serious commercial crimes involving government is just a portion of a bigger problem. A lot is taking place within the private sector and civil society in general. This demonstrates that our focus has to be broad based, integrated and must take on board every sector of our society.
In short, fighting corruption is not dependent entirely on government. Success will come only if all sectors of our society including business, labour, civil society structures and individuals can put their shoulder behind the wheel to strengthen the movement against fraud and corruption. We need to stand out and together say no to corruption in the Eastern Cape and in our country. We must build a character of our society that embraces ethical conduct and repels corruption.
Effects of corruption:
It is common knowledge that corruption undermines democratic institutions, slows economic development and contributes to governmental instability. Corruption attacks the foundation of democratic institutions by distorting electoral processes, perverting the rule of law and creating bureaucratic quagmires whose only reason for existing is the soliciting of bribes and favours. Economic development is stunted because foreign direct investment is discouraged and small businesses within the country often find it impossible to overcome the “start-up costs” required because of corruption.
Fellow South Africans, corruption is not some vast impersonal force. It is the result of personal decisions, most often motivated by greed.
When public money is stolen for private gain, it means fewer resources to build schools, hospitals, roads and water treatment facilities. Corruption enables fake or substandard medicines to be dumped on the market, and hazardous waste to be dumped in landfill sites and in oceans. The vulnerable suffer first and worst. Corruption worsens the inequalities in our society which manifest in so many other social ills including levels of violent crime.
The worst is that corruption results in wasted efforts and wasted resources, depriving our communities of quality service delivery, the very communities that we are part of.
This is so because corruption, like cancer destroys not only the cell it infected and if it is not treated and treated well it grows like a tumour, growing so big that it spreads through the whole body affecting and slowly destroys all cells. It has become such a blight to us all that it affects those involved in it as much as it affects those not involved in it.
We must be careful that corruption does not end up taking over moral good of all our society such that its removal threatens to destroy the whole society.
If we liken corruption to cancer, then what is the best procedure to deal with it as science and experience directs us? Prevention should be our mainstay, followed by early detection, effective investigations, improving conviction rates and decisively dealing with the culprits in a manner that sends a clear message.
Similar to our radical treatment of detected cancer cells, corruption must be dealt with radically. There must be no corrupt practice small enough to be ignored because the business person that bribes a government employee today will be evading tax tomorrow in a big way.
Presenting the National Executive’s annual January 8 Statement in Polokwane early this year, President Jacob Zuma, said “Our people have struggled selflessly for freedom from oppression. We cannot fail them when it comes to the struggle for the elimination of poverty.” Corruption undermines this very principle of freeing our people from poverty, in fact it impoverishes them even more.
This government will therefore not be complacent in this regard and will continue tirelessly to find the appropriate cure for this disease and apply it continuously until our people are free.
At the beginning of the current term, guided by the mandate that the people gave to the African National Congress when they voted it into government overwhelmingly in 2009, we committed to intensify the fight against crime and corruption.
I must take this opportunity to congratulate a number of anti-corruption structures of government that are progressively doing a sterling job. These government organs include the South African Police Services, the Special Investigating Unit, the Public Protector, the Independent Complaints Directorate, the National Prosecuting Authority, the States Security Agency, the Public Service Commission, Business and Civil Society bodies and representatives. Other state organs to be acknowledged for their commitment and active support include Eastern Cape House of Traditional Leaders, national and provincial government departments with their entities and South African Local Government Association.
With all the work we are doing, we must acknowledge that a lot more needs to be done to close the gaps identified in the audit conducted by the Department of Public Services and Administration. The audit flagged a need to strengthen strategic leadership, planning, review and reporting as one of the priority areas of intervention to turn the tide on corruption. It implores the Office of the Premier to assert its leadership position to build sufficient capacity in all provincial government departments to deal with corruption.
It is against this scenario and the commitment we made to fight crime and corruption that we redoubled our efforts. In partnership with our twin-province in Germany, Lower Saxony we have reviewed the Provincial Anti-Corruption Action Plan and are in the process of reviewing the Provincial Fraud Prevention Plan. We are very grateful for such commitment to our own cause and dare not fail.
The provincial fraud prevention plan will be developed such that departmental plans will be customised thereto. During the initial stages of this exercise departmental fraud risks were identified and a fraud risk profile for each department will thus be compiled.
We are also glad to report that the necessary provincial anti-corruption structures are in place and seized with formulating necessary policies, monitoring their implementation and further advising our leadership accordingly on matters relating thereto. These structures have a representation of all sectors including business and civil society.
The current scenario shows that only 34% of over 630 cases have been dealt with and closed, with still serious challenges in managing information relating to individual cases handled by various state departments in the Eastern Cape.
To close this gap, today we are again taking another proud step towards intensifying our war against corruption.
Programme Director I am happy to launch the web-based case management system called “Xela”, which is a Nguni word meaning, in English, “report”. Through this system we will be able to track progress on all cases, analyse departmental corruption trends so as to be able to focus on specific problematic areas and directly put up measures to prevent fraud and corruption.
Remember early detection and correct identification of the affected “cells” is the first step to the right direction in radically dealing with the cancer of corruption. We are also tabling our revised Provincial Anti-Corruption Action Plan for a full roll out. The strategy also seeks to take the fight against corruption to the sphere of municipalities.
With today’s commemorative event and using a series of promotional literature that includes the Whistle Blowing Policy and the Code of Ethics, we are intensifying our education and awareness campaign aimed at mobilising every player in our society to join the onslaught against corruption.
We have also finalised an audit of the skills of anti-corruption practitioners in all provincial government departments, which laid bare a number of weaknesses in terms of competency levels of these corruption busters. We have designed a skills development programme that includes soliciting support services of various law enforcement agencies to enable these officials to perform optimally.
We have formed an Anti-Corruption Task Team under the auspices of the Provincial Anti-Corruption Forum and Council to deal with the backlog of cases in departments. Currently the crack team is working with the Department of Education that has about one-third of the cases registered on our data base as there is very limited capacity to investigate the cases referred to us from the National Anti-Corruption Hotline.
Since 2010 we have also deployed the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to deal with fraud and corruption in the Department of Education, while also deploying a multi-disciplinary team in the Department of Health. These two departments account for nearly half of all cases of fraud and corruption on our database. The Multi-disciplinary team deployed in the Department of Health includes Provincial Treasury, a consortium of reputable audit firms and SIU.
We are determined to clean the administration and rebuild our people’s confidence and trust of government.
We are conducting Anti-Corruption and Security Road Shows covering the districts of the Eastern Cape to raise awareness. This initiative is also aimed at strengthening our relations with stakeholders as the Department of Home Affairs, South African Social Security Agency State Security Agency, Provincial Treasury, South African Police Services and SARS are part of the team. We have started with school targeted visits to try and build ethical foundations as part of fraud and corruption prevention strategy.
During the EXCO Legkotla a decision was taken to develop a policy that will restrain officials from trading with government. That process has begun and demonstrates a clear commitment of government to eradicate the scourge of corruption.
The greatest incentive to engage in fraud and corruption is a belief that one will not be detected and caught. We are investing more in building capacity to detect, investigate and improve conviction rates in both internal disciplinary processes and criminal proceedings. Alongside these efforts, we are continuing to strengthen good governance in order to build trust and confidence among our people in their government.
Now, as I conclude I would like to indicate that the United Nations Convention Against Corruption in 2003 characterised corruption as posing problems and threats ‘to the stability and security of societies, undermining the institutions and values of democracy, ethical values and justice and jeopardising sustainable development and the rule of law.’ As we can see, corruption undermines all that we stand for and therefore cannot be tolerated. It affects mostly the very same people we exist for, our communities.
Therefore we cannot allow it to survive and thrive any further. We must go out and mobilise our friends, our colleagues and our communities against corruption in all its forms.
Fighting corruption is my responsibility and your responsibility as well, government cannot do it alone, we need a consolidated effort that will yield positive results. Every sector must develop and meticulously execute its own anti-corruption strategy that is aligned to the broader framework set by government so that we leave no corner to hide.
Together we can, surely, do more to fight and eradicate corruption. The power is in our hands and we must further empower our people to be active agents in the fight against fraud and corruption.
We owe it to ourselves, our people and our future generations to deal decisively with this scourge, so that they can enjoy a great quality of life.
I thank you
Issued by: Eastern Cape Office of the Premier
9 Dec 2011
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