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Pretoria - Public Service Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has dismissed as “poorly researched and redundant” a DA private member’s bill that would ban government employees and their families from doing business with the government.
Sisulu’s spokesman, Ndivhuwo Mabaya, said the DA’s bill was a “copy and paste” of what was on the internet.
The proposed bill, submitted to Parliament last month, is aimed at prohibiting government employees and their families from directly or indirectly holding more than 5 percent in shares, stock, membership or other interests in an entity that does business with the government, unless approval is given by the relevant cabinet minister in accordance with criteria set out in the bill.
If passed, it would ensure that before the government entered into any contract with an entity for the sale, lease or supply of goods and services, the entity must disclose in an affidavit whether it is owned or part-owned by employees of the government. All government employees would have to disclose their business interests at prescribed intervals, in the same way as members of the cabinet and MPs do.
But Mabaya said the Public Service Department was consulting lawyers because it was not in a rush to brief the media before producing a solid bill, he said.
The department was considering whether it would be necessary to amend the Public Service Act or the Public Finance Management Act or whether a new instrument was required to prohibit public servants from doing business with the State, he said.
The definition of who was a public servant was essential since it would be important to decide whether and how local government employees could be included in the new regulations, he added.
Constitutional implications would also need to be considered.
The DA’s spokesman on the public service, Kobus Marais, said immediate action was needed to end the “pillaging of state coffers”.
He cited Auditor-General Terence Nombembe’s audit report for 2011/12 which, released this week, revealed that R141 million in contracts had been awarded to suppliers linked to public servants. This was up from R136m in 2010/11.
A Public Service Commission report in 2010 estimated that R624m in public money went to companies with links to public servants, their families or their spouses’ families, Marais said. He welcomed Sisulu’s tough talk on corruption, but called on her to publicly support the DA’s Private Member’s Legislation.
“South Africans cannot wait any longer… (for) the government to end cronyism, nepotism and corruption in the government.
“It is time for Minister Sisulu to walk the talk.”