DRAFT MEDIA RELEASE
Date: 5 December 2006
For Immediate Release
MEETING OF THE NATIONAL ANTI-CORRUPTION FORUM (NACF) HELD ON 5 DECEMBER 2006
The National Anti-Corruption Forum (NACF) comprising Business, Civil Society and Government, held its last meeting for 2006 today at the South African Reserve Bank in Pretoria. The meeting was chaired by the Minister for Public Service and Administration, Ms Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi. The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) was welcomed to its first meeting of the NACF and the NACF looks forward to the active participation of SANEF.
For the first time South Africa will be hosting the Global Forum V on Corruption in the beginning of April 2007. The theme Fulfilling our commitments: Effective action against corruption will emphasize effective implementation and application of anti corruption measures. Global Forum V will provide the opportunity for the African region to promote a common understanding of corruption and provide a collective position and response to corruption and to this end an Africa Forum on Fighting Corruption will be held from 28 February to 2 March 2007. The NACF will contribute to these events, and ensure participation of civil society. Although Global Forum V is an inter-governmental meeting, civil society organizations have been invited as participants and members of civil society will also present papers and chair particular sessions in both Global Forum and the Africa Forum. During the Africa Forum a round-table of former heads of African countries will be hosted to address issues related to corruption at the beginning of the Africa Forum.
A brief report was given on the country review report on South Africa’s APRM self-assessment. The final review report is not available as yet. The draft report however, is a positive report acknowledging the achievements made. It identifies 18 best practices ranging from Izimbizo, robust legal system, protection of human rights and the South African Revenue Services and Multi-Purpose Community Centers, amongst others. The report also praised South Africa for the introduction of methodological innovations in implementing the APRM, including a simplified questionnaire translated into all official languages, the promotion of participatory methodologies applied by Community Development Workers and participation of civil society through the local ECOSSOC chapter. At the same time the review report does point to challenges that must be addressed.
The report contains preliminary findings of the Eminent Persons. In terms of the process, Government is required to interact with the Eminent Persons, pointing to factual inaccuracies and omissions as well as comment on measures it intends taking to meet identified shortcomings. The next step is for the Eminent Persons to table their report to the Heads of State and Government Assembly in January where our President will participate. It will then be released publicly. As a country, we will have the responsibility of implementing the Action Plan emanating from the review.
A comprehensive report was given on the progress made on the National Anti-Corruption Programme (NACP). Work done clearly reflects that the NACF is yielding positive results. Civil society and the public sector reported that the NACF integrity pledge was being used as a vehicle to promote anti-corruption within their sectors. The sectors also reflected on the codes of conducts for their respective constituencies and it was reported that the Public Service Commission had distributed over a million copies of an Explanatory Manual on the Code of Conduct and that a report on the efficacy of the Code of Conduct was produced. In order to strengthen capacity for the implementation of anti-corruption legislation it was reported that approximately 263 public sector officials were trained by the South African Management Development Institute. This includes officials at national, provincial and local government level. In relation to conflict of interest, it was reported that the Public Service Commission has produced a report on the management of conflicts of interest and this work is now being taken forward by a joint team. It was noted that South Africa is one of the first countries to ratify the United Nations Convention against Corruption and to comply with its mandatory requirements.
In considering the progress report, the NACF members felt that there has been substantial progress in the manner that the NACF has executed its programme, whilst recognizing that there is more that it can do. The NACF agreed that each of the sectors will critically review the progress report and through introspection identify and prioritize gaps that must be addressed. This will be discussed in depth at the first NACF meeting to be held in 2007.
Business presented its view on the results of Transparency International’s Bribe Payers Index, 2006 which ranked South Africa 24 th out of 30 countries indicating that there is a strong possibility that South African Businesses will bribe foreign officials in other countries. The NACF was grateful for the opportunity to engage with this issue. Business acknowledged that it is its responsibility to put in place measures to ensure accountability in the business environment. The Anti-Corruption Business Working Group will be putting forward a document which will be symbolic of business’ zero tolerance approach to corruption. This document will be subscribed to by businesses and will set out sub-sections that such businesses will have to deal with in their respective codes of conduct. Adopting these measures will provide for good governance within the business arena. The NACF reflected on the history of the discussion within the NACF on corporate governance. Corporate failings had resulted in the Forum calling for a discussion to be led by business on corporate governance. It was agreed that the Extended NACF in February will receive a report on these matters with a focus on extra-territorial operations of South African companies and how to maintain corporate governance standards domestically and internationally.
In addition, a roundtable on bribery of foreign officials by businesses will be convened in early 2007 to explore action against this practice.
In the discussion on the effectiveness of Hotlines as anti-corruption mechanisms, it was highlighted that as at 30 November 2006, a total of 2 296 cases of alleged corruption were reported to the National Anti-Corruption Hotline (NACH) since its inception in September 2004. The NACH is managed by the PSC. Although feedback from departments and agencies is generally slow, (feedback has only been received in respect of 830 out of 2296 cases), cases reported to the Hotline have already led to the dismissal of 20 officials from the Public Service while 17 were suspended pending finalization of their cases.
The most frequently reported cases relating to provinces dealt with alleged abuse of government-owned vehicles (168) as well as allegations of fraud and procurement irregularities such as favouring friends/relatives or not following proper procedures, when issuing tenders (159). In order to address the slow response rate, the Public Service Commission has developed a Toolkit on the management of Hotline Cases. It was also reported that the Department of Social Development has its own hotline which has since March 2004 received more than 40168 cases related to social grant fraud. The South African Revenue Services (SARS) Hotline recorded more than 40715 cases. The highest number of cases reported to the SARS hotline related to personal income tax (13 100), followed by import-related cases (6 211) and company tax related cases (5 954).
The NACF noted that considerable progress has been made in certain areas of its work, but that there is a need to step up the pace of work in the New Year in order to build on the current momentum. The hosting of Global Forum V and the Africa Forum provide an opportunity to give impetus to a stronger drive. Sectors have been requested to observe and celebrate International Anti-Corruption Day on the 9 th December.
Issued by the NACF in Pretoria, on 5 December 2006.