Date: 30 August 2007
For Immediate Release
The National Anti Corruption Forum (NACF) held a meeting on Wednesday 29 August 2007 focusing on pertinent issues facing South Africa in the fight against corruption. The NACF, chaired by the Minister for the Public Service and Administration, is a cross sectoral forum in the fight against corruption and consists of representatives of the Public Sector, Civil Society and Business. This meeting focused in particular on whistleblowing, preparations for the Third National Anti-Corruption Summit and an environmental scan of the three sectors.
The importance of whistleblowing as a mechanism to combat corruption and activities in this area was reported on. Progress with the Whistle Blowing Schools Competition was reported by Civil Society represented by the Open Democracy Advice Center (ODAC). Such competition promotes whistleblowing as part of school curricula and equips teachers to raise awareness among learners. The NACF supports the interaction between Civil Society and the Department of Education. A report by the Open Democracy Advice Center on the application of the Protected Disclosures Act was presented. Problems identified in terms of the Act include that it is not mandatory to have a whistleblowing policy for employers, that the Legal Aid Board will not represent whistleblowers and that there is a cap of two years’ salary on the damages that may be claimed. However, despite these concerns there are positive developments. The South African Law Reform Commission is currently considering the shortcomings of the Act as resolved by the NACF at its Summit in March 2005. Proposed amendments to the Companies Act which suggest remedies to these problems were welcomed. The NACF has also coordinated a national cross-sectoral educational campaign to promote whistleblowing and the reporting of corruption. In addition, the Public Sector has developed a whistleblowing guideline which contains a proposed whistle blowing policy for use by departments.
The NACF sub-committee on the “Apartheid Grand Corruption” report which was presented to NACF by Civil Society in 2006 provided proposals on taking the matter forward. It was agreed that further research be undertaken to guide awareness raising and communication.
Discussions on preparations for the 3rd National Anti-Corruption Summit to be hosted by the NACF were held. The preliminary theme for the Summit is “Towards an Integrated National Integrity Framework: Consolidating the Fight Against Corruption”. It was agreed that in depth preparatory work be undertaken by the different sectors reflecting on what has been done and should be done to further the fight against corruption. To this end, a concept document and workplan will be developed to guide the sectors. Given the nature of the preparatory work to be done it is foreseen that the Summit will be held in the first quarter of 2008. Ultimately, this Summit should reflect critically on what more needs to be done to ensure that South Africa has a functional National Integrity Framework.
The Public Sector reported progress on a Business Survey by the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) on Corruption in the Private Sector. The objectives of the survey is to gain a better understanding of the extent and levels of corruption within the Business Sector, and the level of compliance with the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act and other initiatives. It is envisaged that the study will be completed by December 2007.
The Public and Business sectors provided a scan of their environment. A report by the Public Service Commission (PSC) on Financial Misconduct in the Public Service during the 2005/2006 financial year was presented. 771 financial misconduct cases were reported to the PSC. The most prevalent form of financial misconduct is fraud and theft which amounted to 496 of the reported cases. Of the total of 771 misconduct cases, 81% of employees were found guilty. The total cost of financial misconduct was R45 million. Concern was expressed by members of the NACF that only a limited number of public servants were criminally charged emanating from financial misconduct.
Business Unity South Africa, in reflecting on the Business Sector environment, reported that it has encouraged firms to identify with and subscribe to the implementation of the principles of the Global Compact Coalition against Corruption. A further initiative has been to subscribe to similar principles advanced by the World Economic Forum. Business also reported that fronting, particularly in the Small Medium and Micro Enterprises, is a challenge facing the Business Sector.
The NACF agreed that Civil Society will present a scan of its environment at the next NACF meeting with a focused input by Organised Labour.
The NACF is committed to the fight against corruption and seeks, through its programmes and active participation of individual sectors, to improve the lives of all citizens. It is envisaged that the outcome of the third National Anti Corruption Summit will contribute in a visible and direct manner to the promotion of integrity in South Africa.
Issued by the Secretariat of the NACF
For more information, please contact:
Humphrey Ramafoko 082 782 1730 OR,
Nelson Kgwete 082 806 2292