Monday, 27 September 2021

Pretoria: As Public Service Month draws to a close, President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on public servants to recommit themselves to the values of selflessness and service.

In his weekly newsletter, the President said public servants’ conduct must at all times be both legal and ethical.

The President expressed his disappointment after revelations in Parliament that thousands of public servants have been illegally receiving social grants every month.

“The revelation in Parliament that thousands of public servants have been illegally receiving social grants every month shows we still have a long way to go towards instilling a culture of ethics in the public service.”

Earlier this year, it was reported that around 16 000 employees on the government payroll were irregularly paid the COVID-19 Social Relief of Distress grant.

“It is common knowledge that applicants with other sources of income do not qualify for this grant. It is also self-evident that those who receive an income from the state are not eligible to apply,” the President said.

He said some 17 000 people employed at national and provincial government submitted applications in a bid to top up their salaries with money meant for the poor.

“Given the extent of need in the country, one that our public servants know too well, this wilful intent to steal from the public purse is unforgivable.”

In continued efforts to end corruption in the public service, the President said that government is now stepping up its efforts to prevent this kind of abuse and act against anyone in the public service involved in wrongdoing.

This month, government launched a new Public Administration Ethics, Integrity and Disciplinary Technical Assistance Unit. The unit is aimed at building capacity within public bodies to institute disciplinary proceedings in cases of misconduct and cooperate with other organs of State in holding those responsible to account.

Speaking on the newly established Technical Assistance Unit, President Ramaphosa said the establishment of this unit is one of the ways to fight and end corruption in government and in all spheres of South African life.

“The unit will refer corruption cases to government’s Anti-Corruption Task Team and follow up with departments to ensure criminal cases involving public servants translate into disciplinary cases. Working with the multi-agency Fusion Centre, the unit will help identify employees in priority cases investigated by law enforcement authorities,” the President said.

He said the unit will monitor the lifestyle audits of public service employees and where departments identify corruption and unexplained wealth, the cases will be referred to the South African Police Service.

The new unit has already begun its work in earnest, helping to identify public servants involved in cases related to COVID-19 procurement, the special COVID-19 grant and Unemployment Insurance Fund fraud.

The cases of government officials referred by the Special Investigating Unit for disciplinary action will be monitored by the unit to assess their progress.