OPINION | Yoliswa Makhasi: We can only break the cycle of corruption if we work together

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Corruption stands as one of the greatest threats to our democracy and threatens all the gains we have made, writes the author. Photo: File
Corruption stands as one of the greatest threats to our democracy and threatens all the gains we have made, writes the author. Photo: File

Government knows that fighting corruption requires concrete actions and we are determined that the public sector will lead the way, writes Yoliswa Makhasi.


Corruption stands as one of the greatest threats to our democracy and threatens all the gains we have made. As the government of South Africa, we are resolute that corruption will not steal our children's future and generations to come. We have therefore adopted a zero-tolerance stance towards corruption in the public and private sectors.

The South African government knows that fighting corruption requires concrete actions and we are determined that the public sector will lead the way in it. This is a fight for the very soul of our nation and one we dare not lose. We have therefore acted decisively to strengthen the anti-corruption fight in government at all levels. The Public Administration Ethics, Integrity and Disciplinary Technical Assistance Unit (TAU) at the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) has been put in place to help build an ethical public administration and address public service corruption. 

Norms and standards 

The TAU is tasked with developing norms and standards and building capacity within institutions to initiate and institute disciplinary proceedings against misconduct. It also focuses on strengthening government oversight, promoting and enhancing good ethics and integrity, and reinforcing disciplinary matters relating to misconduct in the public service.

A vital part of ensuring ethics, integrity and good governance is managing the financial interests of public servants. This is done through the eDisclosure system, an electronic system that allows designated categories of public service employees to disclose their financial interests yearly. This system goes hand in hand with lifestyle audits which are meant to detect conflicts of interest and unexplained wealth. 


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The matter of lifestyle audits was one of the questions addressed in the third iteration of the Public Sector Ethics Survey. Close to 9000 participants were surveyed across all three spheres of government on issues such as ethical and behaviour concerns. 

Interestingly close to 90% of those surveyed indicated that they would be open to undergoing a lifestyle audit. While close to 70% of participants indicated that lifestyle audits will be effective in reducing corruption.

The survey also revealed that generally, organisations with clean audits provide better service delivery, have a more supportive ethical culture and have less misconduct. The survey also showed that most participants are aware of ethics management initiatives such as the code of conduct and various work-related policies.  

Public servants want to lead the way 

The results of the survey reinforce the fact that public servants are willing to lead the way in fighting corruption and malfeasance. It is also a fact that in many instances it has taken the bravery of honest public servants to blow the whistle on corruption. These public servants have done so at the risk of their livelihoods and sometimes their lives. 

As the Public Service, we are resolute that the behaviour of public servants must be beyond reproach at all times and should work to stamp out any corruption. As servants of the people and our nation, we must work to ensure a culture of service delivery and excellence. By simply doing the right things and by working to ensure a better tomorrow we can leave a lasting legacy for our children and future generations.

READ | Why government's public sector problems are bigger than the wage bill

The National Anti-Corruption Strategy, which Cabinet endorsed in November 2020, is our national blueprint for stamping out corruption. Consisting of six key strategic pillars, it calls on us to do more in the fight against corruption. It promotes active citizenry and professionalism in all spheres of society. It emphasises the need for enhanced governance and oversight while acknowledging the need to improve the transparency and credibility of the public procurement system. 

It takes a fresh look at ways to strengthen the resourcing, coordination, transnational cooperation, performance, accountability and independence of dedicated anti-corruption agencies. Finally, it pinpoints ways to protect vulnerable sectors most prone to corruption and unethical practices with effective risk management.

A guide 

As a nation, we must ensure that the National Anti-Corruption Strategy guides us in all we do. It is our national plan and represents our best hope for ending the scourge of corruption. However, it will only succeed if we all work together to break the cycle of corruption. 

Now more than ever we need a united front and to work together as the success of our fight against corruption depends on the involvement of all citizens and all parts of society. It is up to each one of us to always act with integrity and to be both responsible and honest citizens. 

The success of our fight against corruption depends on the involvement of all citizens and all parts of society. Report corruption by dialling the National Anti-Corruption Hotline on 0800 701 701.

- Yoliswa Makhasi is Director General of the Department of Public Service and Administration.

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