Regulation for public servants' gifts

By Drum Digital
28 March 2012

The government is exploring measures to further regulate acceptance of gifts by civil servants, the Public Service Commission (PSC) said on Wednesday.

Addressing journalists in Pretoria PSC director general Richard Levin said there was an urgent need to address the contradictions and ambiguities in the legislation relating to the receipt of gifts.

"There is a persisting argument that the issue of gifts from an Afro-centric perspective has grey areas. The [new] policy should incorporate all cultures and it should be fair."

He said that under the public sector integrity management framework, public servants were prohibited from accepting or soliciting any gifts, hospitality, or benefits in return for performing or not performing their official duties.

In addition, the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act prohibits the acceptance of gifts by public servants.

"We are now looking at the regulatory frameworks. If I attend a conference and I'm given a pack with items exceeding R350 in value, I am supposed to disclose that," said Levin.

"At this stage there are inconsistencies [in the regulation] and people do not know whether to accept or turn down gifts.

"There are different contradicting cultural perceptions around the receiving of gifts. You know that it's seen as being disrespectful to turn down a gift. We are looking at that dimension," said Levin.

Research by the PSC in 2008 on the management of and receipt of gifts revealed that the majority of public servants were in favour of a new policy observing Afrocentric cultural practices.

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