State officials fail to disclose

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Lindiwe Sisulu1

Independent Newspapers.

Lindiwe Sisulu. Picture: Courtney Africa.

Cape Town - A third of directors-general, the highest public service rank whose appointments are approved by the cabinet or provincial executives, failed to comply with the financial disclosure regime in the 2011/12 financial year, according to the Public Service Commission.

At the end of May 2012, only 33 of the 52 directors-general at the helm of national and provincial departments submitted their financial disclosures, including directorships, shares and property.

Of the 19 outstanding disclosures, three directors-general did not file their statements because they were either on special leave or suspended.

“This, however, is not a valid reason for failure to submit a financial disclosure form. These officials are still subject to all the rules and regulations that apply to the public service,” the commission said in its report for the 2011/12 financial year.

Deep concerns remain as a total of 17 national departments did not submit a single financial disclosure, including “repeat offenders” communications, defence, state security, correctional services, rural development and international relations, alongside labour, mineral resources, agriculture, women, children and people with disabilities, social development, sport and public service and administration.

At provincial level, 14 departments in three provinces, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State and North-West, did not file a single disclosure as required from all senior managers annually at the end of May.

Only the Western Cape and Northern Cape scored 100 percent, followed by Gauteng at 99 percent disclosure levels, and Limpopo and Mpumalanga at 96 percent.

While yesterday’s report highlights the state of financial honesty in the public service, its report is well over a year out of date – raising questions over its own resources not only to produce reports, but also manage the disclosures which remain confidential, unlike those of parliamentarians, members of the executive at national and provincial government and councillors.

While the average compliance in the 2011/12 financial year had improved to 75 percent, up from below 50 percent between 2007 and 2009, “only a 100 percent compliance rate would be satisfactory”, the commission said.

In November 2013 Public Service and Administration Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said that year’s (2013) compliance figure stood at 85 percent.

“I promise, by next year there will be 100 percent compliance,” she said at the time, citing improved efficiency through a newly introduced disclosure e-filing system.

The latest Public Service Commission financial disclosure report comes against the background of key public service reforms, including the passage through Parliament of the Public Administration Management Bill, which bans civil servants from doing business with the state and tightens up the financial disclosure regime, while also establishing an ethics unit and an office of standards and compliance.

For years the commission has raised the alarm over low levels of financial disclosures by senior public service managers who are required to do so under the civil service rules and regulations, and increasingly, also in terms of their performance contracts. - Cape Argus


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