Reported acts of corruption have damaged trust in public servants, acting Public Service and Administration Minister Mildred Oliphant conceded on Tuesday.
“There has been palpable frustration regarding the delayed response by departments in combating and preventing corruption,” she told the National Assembly during debate on her budget vote.
It sometimes took several months for disciplinary processes to start, during which time officials were suspended on full pay -
often for several months, if not years - while waiting for charges to be brought against them.
This impacted negatively on the performance of the public service and on the morale of public servants.
“Furthermore, there are significant inconsistencies and disparities in the types of sanctions applied by presiding officers at the conclusion of disciplinary enquiries,” she said.
Allegations of corruption reported to the anti-corruption hotline were referred back to departments to be followed up on.
But due to insufficient investigative capacity, initial investigations were seldom completed or were unduly protracted.
Government had, among others, taken decisive steps to build anti-corruption capacity across the public service.
It had strengthened the recently established anti-corruption instruments, such as the Public Service Anti-corruption Unit (Psacu), the multi-agency working group, and the anti-corruption hotline to fortify initiatives to effectively combat corruption.
“The ministry intends to intensify this work and hopes to report tangible progress to this honourable House in this regard,” Oliphant said.
Reducing backlogs on corruption-related disciplinary cases would be fast-tracked, with a special focus on payroll and procurement processes.
A public sector integrity management framework would also be introduced.
She said South Africa's standing on the international corruption perception index improved from position 55 out of 180 countries to 40 out of 180 countries or lower.
In contributing towards the fight against corruption, Psacu, located within the department, conducted joint investigations with the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) on high level corruption-related cases.
Having completed its first year of existence, the ministry expected the unit to gain more capacity and to intensify its work in the fight against corruption.
The Public Service Commission (PSC) had concluded 366 investigations into allegations of maladministration and corruption.
It also continued its involvement in managing conflicts of interest through the financial disclosure framework (FDF) in the public service.
As at March 15, the compliance rate for submitting FDF forms by SMS by members for the 2010/11 financial year was 94 percent, Oliphant said. - Sapa