'Culture of consequences' needed to curb corruption in SA water sector - water body

2020-03-12 17:29
Damaged water infrastructure.

Damaged water infrastructure. (Moeketsi Mamane)

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The systematic weakening of institutions in the water sector and the exploitation of this for corrupt purposes, have contributed to the deterioration of water management in South Africa, says executive director of the Water Integrity Network, Barbara Schreiner.

Speaking at the launch of a Corruption Watch report titled, Money Down the Drain: Corruption in the Water Sector, Schreiner said South Africa is an important case study.

The report seeks to understand corrupt activity in the sector.

Corruption has negatively impacted many communities, with resources meant to improve services being funnelled to private persons and politicians instead.

Cases presented in the report focused on business corruption by public officials, as well as the actions of private persons and businesses who "develop and exploit weaknesses in the public sector", Schreiner said.

READ | Water and Sanitation will table qualified audit report seven months late

Evidence from the report suggested these corrupt activities happened in three ways:

1. Manipulation of procurement and operational processes;

2. Influencing policy and regulatory decisions; and

3. Taking control of institutions.

While there are no easy solutions, hope is not lost, Schreiner said, with dedicated officials, whistle-blowers and the media who expose corruption.

'We have to get procurement under control'

The Special Investigative Unit (SIU) was also conducting investigations, she added.

"We need ethical people appointed and the right criteria in the selection process... we have to get procurement under control," Schreiner said.

READ | Rand Water to reduce water supply to three municipalities that owe it millions

The public procurement process was regarded as government's most vulnerable weak spot because of the large sums of money involved, complex processes and interaction between the public and private sector, she said.

A "culture of consequences" was important to curb corruption, Schreiner said, because abuse will go unpunished if this was lacking.

Importantly, learning from cases where water sector corruption has been stamped out could go a long way in understanding the circumstances which give rise to corruption and measures to reduce it, Schreiner said.

Read more on:    corruption watch  |  siu  |  governance  |  corruption

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