Officials fume over tough new rules

2013-02-24 10:01

Government and union leaders have publicly welcomed a decision to bar government officials from doing business with the state – but behind the scenes, officials are fuming.

Public Service and Administration Minister Lindiwe Sisulu told Parliament this week that the time for public servants to milk the state was over.

“We remain very dismayed at the number of public servants doing business with the state,” Sisulu said in Parliament.

“The National Development Plan and the Public Service Commission have recommended that we prohibit public servants from doing business with the state.

“We have accepted this recommendation and we are working on legislation to effect this and, henceforth, no public servant would be allowed to do business with the state.”

PSC director-general Richard Levin said this showed government takes the fight against corruption seriously, while the National Eduation, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) said it was a necessary step.

But behind the scenes, senior managers say the plan will not fly. Said one: “Most of the 1.5?million public servants are at the lower level and they don’t earn enough to sustain their lives. They have no choice but to explore other opportunities.”

He said these officials got smaller contracts for catering and sound equipment for events, “not worth millions”.

Another said the change of rules was a form of discrimination.

“People should not be allowed to do business with their own departments, but how do they influence business in other departments? You can’t punish everyone because there are corrupt people at the top.”

Nehawu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said there should be a cooling-off period for civil servants who leave the state’s employ to be barred from doing business with government – to counter the so-called javelin-throwing approach, where a civil servant sets up projects and tenders to be exploited after leaving government.

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