No business for civil servants, says Manuel

2011-11-16 13:02

The national development plan (NDP) says that the running of certain types of private business by civil servants should be made illegal.

If Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel has his way, they will not be allowed to do any business at all, other than serving the public.

“If people want to be in business, then they must go into business; if they want to serve the public, they should join the public service,” he told MPs today.

Briefing members of Parliament’s public service portfolio committee on the newly-released NDP, Manuel noted that the draft plan called for a prohibition on some private business by public servants.

“There’s a proposal that civil servants should be prohibited from participating in certain kinds of business activities. I would wish that it were all business activities.”

He then added: “But that is not a battle I’ve won – yet.”

The NDP document, in a chapter titled Promoting Accountability and Fighting Corruption, recommends the establishment of an “accountability framework” for public servants.

It suggests this be developed “linking the liability of individual public servants to their roles and responsibilities and job descriptions in proportion with their functions and seniority”.

Further, “it should be made illegal for civil servants to operate or benefit from certain types of business”.

Manuel said legal and political steps needed to be taken to protect anti-corruption agencies from political interference.

There was also a need for dedicated prosecution teams and specialist courts to hear corruption cases.

“[And to] ensure that this idea that somebody is charged with corruption in the public service and then stays at home on full pay for four years, sets a bad example.

“The old maxim, justice delayed is justice denied, is applied to the victim. I think... we must understand that the public service and the poor are victims of corruption. So delaying justice is denying them the justice,” he said. 

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