Media reports about civil servant doing business with the state, or insider trading, as I call it, is nothing new. Nor are Premier Noxolo Kiviet’s promises to put an end to it.
Prolonged lip-service by the ANC towards this practice seems to be nothing more than a poorly disguised effort to appease ordinary citizens while an elite few loot the coffers at will.
In July last year the Premier again “talked tough” and said the province would lobby to outlaw insider trading when the Auditor-General revealed that municipal officials, councillors and their families benefitted from nearly R100-million worth of Eastern Cape municipal government tenders in 2010/11. In the case of provincial government tenders it amounts to R1-billion.
According to a written reply to a parliamentary question by me, Premier Kiviet undertook for the Executive council to approve a policy in regard to civil servants doing business with the province by December 2011.
In September 2011 the Daily Dispatch quoted the Premier as saying that the executive had passed a resolution at their Lekgotla that the policy would be ready for implementation by January 2012.
This week the Office of the Premier claimed that a policy restricting this practice had been adopted by the Expo on 24 October last year. Whether this policy is being implemented in departments, remains to be seen.
Business interests of civil servants have been repeatedly exposed: this includes media reports in September 2011 that more than 10 000 of the 47 000 staff in the Eastern Cape Health Department were doing business with the province; and former Superintendent-General of Education, prof. Harry Nengwekhulu, stated in 2010 that 90% of the senior management of the department was trading with the province.
The DA has over a long period of time promoted a policy shift in terms of our agenda of accountability. More than two years ago, in November 2010, I tabled a Private Member’s Bill outlawing civil servants trading with the province, based on the legislature passed by the Western Cape provincial parliament.
The continued status quo is unacceptable. It is imperative that a new policy is approved as quickly as possible to outlaw this practice.
Billions are lost through overpricing, maladministration and corruption. This amounts to more than the annual budgets of most departments.
There are very practical steps than can be taken to deal with this situation:
The names of all those tendering for state business names should be matched against the Persal database (the employee database of civil servants). If there are any linkages with no declarations of interests, then the tender application should be immediately kicked out.
Insider trading is a criminal offence when it comes to the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. Good corporate governance determines that employees cannot be involved in blanket trading with their own companies.
We need action now, Madam Premier.
In a province with massive poverty and infrastructural backlogs where people are hungry for jobs we cannot waste a single cent on corruption. We must ban civil servants from doing business with the province now. The DA will continue to vigorously pursue this matter.