Deputy Minister Chana Pilane-Majake: Launch of ethics week during Public Service Month

Keynote Address by Deputy Minister Dr C Pilane-Majake, Deputy Minister for Public Service and Administration on the launch of the ethics week
Hon Joyce Chitsulo, Member of Parliament from Malawi
Ms Jane Marie Ongolo, the Head of The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in South Africa and her two colleagues, Ms Maria Adomeit and Mr Itumeleng Mongale,
Esteemed members from the Malawian delegation
Senior officials
Ladies and Gentlemen
Allow me to start my by reiterating the importance of Public Service Month. Public Service Month presents an ideal opportunity where we as a collective can take stock of our achievements and failures. This not only enables us to continue with the good work Public Service is doing, but also to be honest in assessing our strength and weaknesses.
The fight against corruption is real and it is continuing. This is not only demonstrated in the adoption of a National Anti-Corruption Strategy and the recent appointment of experts by the President to see this strategy to full implementation, but, law enforcement agencies such as: the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (or the Hawks), the National Prosecuting Authority and the Special Investigating Unit, are all reporting much anticipated progress that showcase their contributions to address the scourge of corruption.
During this Public Service Month five days will be dedicated to ethics and integrity. We must continue as part of building a capable state, inculcate the constitutional values among our public servants.
I implore you as Public Servants to speak out against corruption and unethical conduct, and to use existing reporting mechanisms to report those who are corrupt or unethical. The time for us to be mere spectators when these actions take place, has passed. The Protected Disclosures Act as recently promulgated has strengthened protection mechanisms for whistle blowers.
Programme Director, The Public Administration Ethics, Integrity and Disciplinary Technical Assistance Unit, or TAU, forms part of this resilient anti-corruption system, and is an important instrument to address corruption, fraud and unethical conduct in the Public Administration.
As part of the Fusion Centre, created by the National Anti-Corruption Task Team to fast track corruption cases TAU plays an important role to identify Public Servants involved in fraud and corruption and to monitor that disciplinary action is taken against culprits. The Unit has neither criminal jurisdiction nor an investigative mandate, but, by being part of a coordinated anti-corruption system, it strengthens government’s oversight of ethics, integrity and discipline. TAU ensures that Public Servants involved in corruption are held accountable through institutional mechanisms put in place and coordinated by ethics officers in departments across government. To this end, government has managed to step up consequence management where there is wrong doing. A Guide on to Discipline Management in the Public Service, has also been developed in this regard.
TAU has a mandate to develop norms and standards regarding the management of ethics and integrity for the Public Administration. In line with the values espoused by our Constitution, the Unit adopted a policy for prohibition of public service employees conducting business with the State. In this regard, with some of the employees already convicted for fraud and corruption, case law has been strengthened as part of the fight against corruption. Lifestyle Audit policy was also adopted to detect unexplained wealth among public servants.
There is also a Code of Conduct for Public Service employees developed to address discipline management. This includes: technical assistance to non-acceptance of gifts for work performed; permission to perform remunerative work outside government; performing business with the State; establishment of ethics infrastructure to build an environment, conducive to ethical practices. Special thanks to United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the World Bank, for the support they provided for a tailor-made course for Ethics officers on the verification of financial disclosures as part of the lifestyle review process. A training course for investigators to conduct lifestyle audit is being developed with the assistance of the SIU.
Although TAU develops norms and standards, it is the responsibility of departments to implement such. This is the responsibility of Heads of Department and their Ethics Officers. Over the last two years, about 340 Ethics Officers were designated at national and provincial department level. These employees, are the real change agents for ethics in our national and provincial departments. They are the driving force behind the ethics program of government.
Section 195 of the Constitution requires that a high level of professional ethics be maintained and promoted in the Public Administration.
As I am closing Programme director, let me welcome the Malawian delegation that is visiting South Africa for best practice model experience in designing and developing a financial disclosure system, which we started in 2011. This is an electronic system South Africa utilizes to detect corrupt employees who are fraudulently doing business with government. Through Treasury operated supplier data base such employees are detected by matching their salary payout persal numbers with details on business contracts government entered into. This is a requirement in terms of article 5 of the United Nations Convention against Corruption, of which South Africa is a signatory. This system also serves as the backbone of government’s lifestyle audit program, as it allows Ethics Officers to assess financial declarations of officials for unexplained wealth. We appreciate the recognition of our system afforded by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the supporting arm of the United Nations Convention against Corruption, that referred the government of Malawi to South Africa, for best practise experience.
Special thanks also goes to the Canadian government, I was informed in the past week that they are playing an active role in monitoring the system.
I thank you!

Source: Government of South Africa

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