The first part of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture report recommends establishment of a single, multi-functional, properly resourced and independent anti-corruption authority by government with a mandate to “confront abuses inherent in the present system”.
The report was handed to President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday (4 January) by Commission chair, Acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. Speaking at the Union Buildings he said the authority could be called the Anti-Corruption Authority or Agency of SA (ACASA) and could be modelled along the lines of the Competition Commission.
“The agency or authority, like the Competition Commission structure, must include specialised departments with particular mandates but which collectively represent a comprehensive response to challenges,” the report suggested.
Zondo said it is fundamental the agency be independent.
“There had been lengthy judicial debate on whether such independence can be achieved in a government department or by an entity under Ministerial control. That requires careful consideration,” said the report.
South Africa requires an anti-corruption body free from political oversight and able to combat corruption with fresh and concentrated energy.
“Public trust will not be re-established in the procurement system. The ultimate responsibility for leading the fight against corruption in public procurement cannot again be left to a government department or be subject to Ministerial control.
“What is required are specialised oversight and monitoring authorities which operate on the basis they are independent in the full and untrammelled sense – that they are subject only to the Constitution and the Law,” according to the report.
The report suggested the choice of officials to lead and staff the agency should not be left to the discretion of government.
“Appointments must be in accordance with a transparent procedure in a public process,” the report said.
The report identified inadequate funding and unfilled vacancies as some ways in which such an agency could be prevented from doing its job effectively and properly.
“These measures, taken together, were responsible in a large measure for preventing wrongdoers being held accountable for their actions.
“In order to ensure the agency is able to do its work effectively and properly, it will be necessary to ensure adequacy of funding is proof against political interference. This may be achieved by protections built into the enabling legislation and providing for sources of revenue additional to Parliamentary funding,” it said.
In leading the fight against corruption, the agency will provide an essential service for the public and private sectors and both should contribute in some appropriate way to its funding.
“There should be no objection to the imposition of a levy payable to the agency by every person seeking a procurement contract or participating in a tender process. This will provide necessary additional funding beyond that supplied by Parliament and other sources,” the report said.
The Commission further recommended government, in consultation with the business sector, prepare and publish a national charter against corruption in public procurement.
The charter would include a code of conduct setting out ethical standards applicable to procurement of goods and services.
The commission further recommended government introduce legislation to establish an independent public procurement anti-corruption agency (PPACA), as an independent body, subject to the Constitution and the law, is impartial and must perform without fear, favour or prejudice.