The government is in the process of dismissing corrupt police officers and investigating corruption in procurement and contracts worth R25 billion as part of its larger drive to clean up affairs within state organs.
Yesterday Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said in his budget speech that the fight against corruption in the public sector must continue so citizens get full value for money from the government.
He announced several measures, which will come into effect this year, in order to improve the state’s tendering and procurement procedures. Bidders for government tenders must disclose all directors so it is clear if they are government officials or are not tax compliant. Other measures include departments having to submit to treasury their tender programme in advance for the next financial year, and steps to limit significant changes to procurement orders.
“Citizens and taxpayers do not get full value for money because this [public procurement process] is an area vulnerable to waste and corruption,” Gordhan said. “This compromises the integrity of governance and frustrates the pace of service delivery.”
“Alongside the work of the competition authorities in addressing supplier collusion and tender rigging, a strong procurement framework is critical to boosting jobs and service delivery,” he added.
Gordhan announced that the police are getting more money for new recruits and officials for dozens of new courts. And finally, he said the Special Investigating Unit, which provides forensic and investigative services to all state institutions, will receive another R45 million to boost its investigations.
Over the last two years President Jacob Zuma has issued proclamations authorizing the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to investigate state organs across the three spheres of government. In the current financial year, R250 million in assets have been seized and President Zuma issued 16 proclamations authorizing investigations relating to corruption in procurement and contracts with the estimated value of R15 billion.
Meanwhile, 65 people have been arrested in connection with 53 cases linked to procurement irregularities involving R3 billion. This is part of a broader probe into almost R25 billion of suspect state contracts. At the end of January, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) identified 13 000 vendors who had won state contracts, but owed taxes of over R1 billion. In addition, it was investigating nine cases of tender fraud valued at R1.7 billion.
Earlier this week Justice Minister Jeff Radebe said at a meeting of the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security cluster that there were “about 19 people in our courts who are facing various charges and we have almost half a billion rand worth of assets that have been restrained by the National Prosecuting Authority in our drive to make sure that crime does not pay. We have always repeatedly said that it doesn’t care whether a person is in the public sector in the private sector wherever or whomever, so long as this corruption raise its ugly head, as a Government we will pursue them so that people should never ever think of living in a grand style out of the proceeds of crime.”
The Justice, Crime Prevention and Security cluster said it has set a gaol of prosecuting at least 100 people by 2014 who have illegally accumulated assets of at least R5 million. “We are confident that the implementation of the plan we have in place will improve investor confidence in our economy which will lead to more investments and more jobs,” the ministers said.
“We have directed the Special Investigating Unit to probe alleged maladministration or corruption in various government departments, municipalities and institutions,” President Zuma said in his state of the nation address earlier this month. “While not pre-judging the investigations, they prove our resolve to combat corruption at all levels of government and the public service.”
He also said a Special Anti-Corruption Unit had been established in the Department of Public Service and Administration to handle corruption-related disciplinary cases involving public servants.
About R44-million had been recovered from public servants who were illegally benefiting from housing subsidies, while the cleaning up of fraud in the social grants system was also continuing.
With regard to corruption amongst police, 119 police officers and staff members were dismissed following investigations into fraud and corruption in the 2009/2010 financial year.
During December 2010 the Department of Home Affairs arrested a number of officials implicated in fraudulent activities including their involvement in the production of Identity Documents (ID’s) and passports. “This attests to the zeal and determination with which the cluster intends to rid itself of corrupt elements in the interests of national security,” the ministers said.
“The police cannot effectively fight crime when some of its components and members are themselves involved in criminal activities. Therefore the clean-up within the police and the justice, crime prevention and security cluster will continue unabated,” the ministers said.