KZN to fast-track graft crackdown

2011-02-23 00:00

PREMIER Zweli Mkhize has committed the provincial government to ensuring peaceful local government elections and to building an image of a clean government, "inspired by our determination to uproot the menace of fraud and corruption".

Mkhize was delivering the state of the province address at the Royal Showgrounds in Pietermaritzburg yesterday.

In a move to clamp down on corruption by senior government officials, Mkhize announced that retired former KwaZulu-Natal judge president Vuka Tshabalala would chair internal disciplinary hearings in a bid to fast-track the disciplinary process.

This would ultimately save the government millions of rands being paid to suspended officials, he said.

Investigations have been conducted into 85 cases involving senior officials and in 65 casesdisciplinary proceedings have been recommended .

Forty-one disciplinary cases are already under way.

In four cases four dismissals had been carried out, while 44 cases have been registered for criminal investigations.

"We are in constant liaison with the various law enforcement agencies, such as the Public Prosecutions Directorate and the anti-corruption task team established by the Department of Justice. They have taken on some of our bigger cases," Mkhize said.

In addition, the Office of the Premier has begun an ombudsman service to investigate public complaints about poor service delivery and unprofessional attitudes by civil servants.

The provincial government's tough steps against corruption are expected to filter down to the 61 KZN municipalities.

"The allegations of maladministration, irregularities, corruption and abuse of … authority in awarding contracts, implicating municipal councillors and officials, will be investigated thoroughly and strong action will be taken against those found to have committed offences …"

In an attempt to resolve ongoing political turmoil currently threatening the local government election, Mkhize announced the appointment of a task team led by Community Safety and Liaison MEC Willies Mchunu to mediate political conflicts.

"We shall continue to work for peace, political tolerance and promotion of free political activity in the next elections …

"We shall work closely with the IEC [Independent Electoral Commission] and law enforcement agencies to ensure that the local government elections in 2011 are a pleasant experience," Mkhize declared.

The task team will include represen­tatives from the ANC, IFP and the National Freedom Party.

Turning to the economy, Mkhize said that although KZN economic growth was steady at 3,4%, above national growth of 2,6%, the unemployment rate was 19,7% in the third quarter of last year, with 125 000 jobs lost in 2010.

“The job creation targets set by the president [in the state of the nation address] will require creativity and partnership of government, business, labour and the civil society …

“From our side as government, we will play our part by ensuring that we do not cripple business, particularly SMMEs … HODs and CFOs have been tasked to come up with budgets responsive to job creation and meeting the Millennium Development Goals.”

Mkhize said the provincial health department has to ensure the improvement of health outcomes for all South Africans, as “the burden of disease that is affecting South Africa has its epicentre in this province”.

He addressed the 12 national outcomes outlined in President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation Address, including quality basic education, long and healthy lives for all South Africans, safety and security, decent employment and economic growth, sustainable human settlement, and a responsive, accountable, effective and efficient local government.

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