BID TO STOP OFFICIALS TRADING WITH STATE: THE HERALD

BHISHO is pushing ahead with plans to stop civil servants doing business with the government.

Provincial government spokesman Mahlubandile Qwase said yesterday: “There is a huge number of civil servants doing business with the government.

“We are responding to the auditor-general’s report that was tabled in Parliament [in 2009] highlighting the matter.”

The AG’s report found that among senior civil servants 21% may have potential conflicts of interest, 10% did not fully disclose their financial interests and compliance was rather tardy at 48%.

The decision to put a stop to the practice was taken by the executive council lekgotla last week, Qwasesaid.

The office of the premier, Noxolo Kiviet, would work on developing the policy and would also look at how to implement it before the end of the financial year in March.

“After the policy has been signed into law and is circulated to all the provincial department officials, it is expected that officials, before they engage in remunerative activities, must first seek the approval of executing authorities.

“The policy is clear –we don’t want civil servants doing business with the government,” Qwase said.

Legislature speaker Fikile Xasa said the practice had spread to even the lower levels of government, where interns were starting their own companies to trade with the government.

DA MPL Bobby Stevenson, who tabled the Eastern Cape Business Interests of Employees Procurement Bill in November – aimed at restricting civil servants from doing business with provincial government and its entities – said: “The ANC support for our position is a step forward to rooting out corruption in this province.”

Walter Sisulu University political analyst Professor Carlson Anyangwe said it was unethical for public servants to do business with the government.

Asked whether the policy had potential to improve service delivery, Anyangwe said: “Law doesn’t always solve our problems.

“Sometimes it’s good to use persuasion and convince people to declare their interests.”

Public Service Accountability Monitor head Derek Luyt said the policy would slightly improve the provincial government’s ability to deliver services. But the lack of skills also needed to be addressed.