Watchdog moots lifestyle audits to curb corruption


The Public Service Commission (PSC) says it is to conduct lifestyle audits on senior government officials to tackle corruption as too many top civil servants fail to declare their financial interests.

PSC director-general Mashwahle Diphofa says some senior managers in the government’s employ have failed to declare their financial interests as required by public service regulations, despite the commission’s annual complaints. Diphofa was briefing the National Assembly’s portfolio committee on public service and administration on their strategic plan for the financial year starting next month.

He says the commission had also checked with the Deeds Office and the Companies and Intellectual Property and Registration Office whether these employees have disclosed everything, the Independent Group’s newspapers report. In cases where the senior officials have failed to submit these forms, the PSC has recommended disciplinary action against them. “However, this recommendation has never been taken seriously by government departments, as the commission has raised the failure to disclose as far back as a decade ago,” the papers reported.

The PSC’s frustrations come months after the Auditor-General revealed that hundreds of public servants or their family members were doing business with government departments, prompting a probe from the Treasury. The AG also complained that departments consistently fail to discipline transgressors.

Although he did not say how soon they would start conducting the lifestyle audit, Diphofa said the commission would first conduct research. The commission’s mooted lifestyle audit comes after both President Jacob Zuma and his deputy Kgalema Motlanthe dismissed the idea, the latter as late as yesterday afternoon. The country’s largest trade union grouping, COSATU, by contrast, has been vocal about such an audit for politicians an senior civil servants. . However, the ruling African National Congress’s youth league has called it a political ploy to fight factional political battles in the divided party. Meanwhile, media reports suggest league president Julius Malema is a major “tenderpreneur” whose companies have allegedly won multimillion rand government contracts by means of “political connectivity.”