Roles of Patronage, Corporate Gain Are Underestimated in Fight against Corruption

Cape Times (South Africa), January 15, 2008 | Go to article overview
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Roles of Patronage, Corporate Gain Are Underestimated in Fight against Corruption

BYLINE: Hishaam Mohamed

Great strides have been made in managing and preventing public sector graft.

The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development has, among its primary objectives, combating, preventing and mitigating risk in relation to the resources and responsibilities we manage on behalf of the citizens of our province and country.

We continue to find ways to integrate our anti-corruption policy with our risk management profile and to ensure a collaborative onslaught against corruption and bad practices that rob our people of a deserved service excellence.

We recognise that the value system underpinning the public sector needs to be corruption resistance, as corruption impedes the capacity of the government to deliver justice services to our customers.

Corruption is almost universally defined as "abuse of public office for private gain". The difficulty is that such definitions ignore and downplay the role of patronage, and underestimate the extent to which corporate gain motivates acts of corruption.

Concerted state intervention is needed to redress the legacy of apartheid. The use of the state to redirect accumulation processes and to ensure redress of historical imbalances heightens the risk of corruption. Thus, there is a demand for high levels of integrity, to prevent empowerment strategies from being compromised by patronage and personal enrichment.

Corruption drains state resources and weakens capacity to meet the needs of its people. It hampers the state's ability to create opportunities for advancement and growth. Our new democratic government has, in recent years, introduced a number of measures to fight corruption and bring to justice those who engage in corrupt activities.

The 2004 Anti-Corruption Conference highlighted the need to raise public awareness about corruption. Sixteen resolutions were passed, with the main focus on the National Anti-Corruption Strategy, community understanding, stakeholder commitment and the participation of civil society in fighting corruption.

At the national conferences, a number of resolutions were passed on oversight, accountability, whistle-blowing, co-ordination and the challenges of dealing with corruption. The following actions were initiated by government:

l We have implemented stringent screening mechanisms for all Department of Justice employees and have deployed draft legislation to regulate post-public sector employment of possible corrupt individuals.

l Accredited ethics officers have been appointed to ensure all departments have adequate capacity to fight corruption. Programmes for anti-corruption practitioners, including staff and prosecutors, have been implemented.

l A major achievement has been the expansion of our legislative framework.

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Roles of Patronage, Corporate Gain Are Underestimated in Fight against Corruption


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