The government has launched a new unit targeting unethical public sector employees, including those with “unexplained wealth” and illegally benefitting from the state.
This comes after 16 000 employees on the government payroll illegally claimed COVID-19 Social Relief of Distress grants while more than 17 000 people employed at national and provincial government submitted applications for the grant.
In his weekly newsletter to the public, President Cyril Ramaphosa said that “this wilful intent to steal from the public purse is unforgivable”, adding that the government is now “stepping up its efforts to prevent this kind of abuse and act against anyone in the public service involved in wrongdoing.”
According to Ramaphosa, the Public Administration Ethics, Integrity and Disciplinary Technical Assistance Unit will build capacity within public bodies to institute disciplinary proceedings in cases of misconduct.
Ramaphosa further explained that the unit will:
- Refer corruption cases to government’s Anti-Corruption Task Team and follow up with departments to ensure criminal cases involving public servants translate into disciplinary cases.
- Monitor the conduct of lifestyle audits of public service employees. Where departments identify corruption and unexplained wealth, the cases will be referred to the South African Police Service.
The President explained that a few public servants have taken the view that doing business with or unduly benefitting from the State is permissible for them, their friends and their families, provided there has been no illegality. “We must do everything we can to change this attitude,” he said.
“The vast majority of our public servants are committed, law-abiding and ethical. The task before us is to work together to root out those who are not, and correct the misconception that all those employed in government are either self-serving or corrupt,” Ramaphosa adds.