Housing managers fail to declare interests: report

2010-12-06 13:21

Hundreds of senior managers in the national and provincial housing departments have potential conflicts of interest between their private interests and official duties, a Public Service Commission (PSC) report has found.

The Consolidated Monitoring and Evaluation Report on the Departments of Housing, published today, finds some 576 senior managers out of the sample of 2?628 did not disclose some of their directorships/partnerships in private companies and close corporations.

“The PSC recommends that executive authorities should ensure that transgressing HODs (heads of department) and other members of the SMS (senior management service) are charged with misconduct for failing to disclose their financial interests in terms of the Disciplinary Code and Procedures, as contained in the SMS handbook for not complying with the Financial Disclosure Framework,” the report reads.

According to the report only 122 out of 150 heads of department submitted their financial disclosure forms as at February 5, while 48 of the HODs did not disclose some of their directorships and/or partnerships in private companies/close corporations.

“The PSC finds that the financial interests of 50 or 33 percent, of the HODs, present a potential conflict of interests to their departments.”

According to the report senior managers in the housing departments also received gifts worth hundreds of thousands of rands in the past year.

Out of a sample of 2628, some 101 senior managers received gifts collectively valued at R740?000.

“This indicates that the issue of the provision of gifts to public servants is real and should thus be subjected to appropriate controls,” states the report, in which the performance of all 10 departments of housing are assessed.

The average performance for the housing sector for the 2009/2010 evaluation cycle was just adequate, with a score of 53%.

The best performer for the sector was the Western Cape, which attained an “excellent performance” of 86%, followed by the national department, with a “good performance” at 76%.

The Eastern Cape, which achieved 36%, and the North West, 32%, received the lowest scores in the survey.

“This is an indication of key weaknesses in management and poor co-ordination and implementation of systems and procedures within these departments,” according to the report.

The low-scoring departments – those with below 50% – were, with the exception of the Free State, also recipients of disclaimers or qualified audit opinions from the Auditor-General for the 2008/2009 financial year.

“The PSC recommends that the Public Finance Management Act should be amended to provide for the regulation of private companies linked to public officials and doing business with government,” the report reads.

“The PSC is of the opinion that the management of conflicts of interest could further be strengthened by conducting lifestyle audits. This implies that if an executive authority is of the opinion that there has been incomplete disclosure of financial interests by a senior manager, he/she may embark on a lifestyle audit.”?

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