newritings

August 15, 2008

National Anti Corruption Summit, August 08

Filed under: Mwalimu (Vol 1.2. - Second Quarter 2008),opinion article — newritings @ 4:00 pm

The Third National Anti Corruption Summit was held on 4 and 5 August 2008. Organised under the theme “Towards an Integrated National Integrity Framework, Consolidating the Fight Against Corruption”, the once postponed conference said this to invitees:

This Summit is being hosted by the National Anti Corruption Forum and the theme of the Summit is, “Towards an Integrated National Integrity Framework, Consolidating the Fight Against Corruption”.

The Summit presents the opportunity for all parts of South African society, namely the Public, Business and Civil Society sectors, to collectively reflect on the crafting of an Integrity Framework for the country as well as the values underlying such a Framework.

It is anticipated that the President of the Republic of South Africa will deliver the Keynote Address at the opening of the Summit on 4 August 2008.

The keynote address – presented by the Minister of Public Service and Administration and Chairperson of the National Anti Corruption Forum (NACF) -, which I discussed in the Introduction, was devoid of actual, read “real corruption” in the country, but it’s still worth a look at.

In a largely theoretical –philosophical paper, it concludes with Basic Values and Principles governing public administration, as follows:

1. Public administration must be governed by the democratic values and principles enshrined in the Constitution, including the following principles:

a. A high standard of professional ethics must be promoted and maintained.
b. Efficient, economic and effective use of resources must be promoted.
c. Public administration must be development-oriented.
d. Services must be provided impartially, fairly, equitably and without bias.
e. People’s needs must be responded to, and the public must be encouraged to participate in policy-making.
f. Public administration must be accountable.
g. Transparency must be fostered by providing the public with timely, accessible and accurate information.
h. Good human-resource management and career-development practices, to maximise human potential, must be cultivated.
i. Public administration must be broadly representative of the South African people, with employment and personnel management practices based on ability, objectivity, fairness and the need to redress the imbalances of the past to achieve broad representation.

In a not so subtle dig at some political actors and interests – the closest to real political criticism and real politics -, the Minister made the following statement:

“As a country we need to guard against the corruption of our values and we must exercise vigilance over self proclaimed guardians who corrupt our democratic ethos by labelling those they disagree with as sexist, racist and engaging in practices of nepotism. Corruption does not only take the form of the cash nexus it takes the form corruption of values.”

As if her allegiances are not known publicly, this comment sat alongside a favourable quote of the then deputy president Mbeki speaking at the 1998 (yes -way back, editor) Anti Corruption Summit, where he lashed out at a culture of entitlement then taking root.

The resolutions (below) cover the usual scope of good practices that are sorely needed. But it, in the areas of ethical practices in social and economic life, thus making some new waves. It resolves “To support legislative and other measures to ensure that companies found guilty of offenses of price fixing, market allocation and collusive tendering are prohibited from state tenders for a determined period; and to strengthen the enforcement provisions of the Competition Act including holding individuals accountable for price fixing, market allocation and collusive tendering.” Many anti corruption NGOs could go some way towards focusing on the corporate sector, and its role in corruption and mal-governance.

In trying to craft an integrity framework it outlines the elements that are required – but, as indicated, little will be achieved outside context of power politics, of masses, parties, institutions and laws and the history of the evolution of the institutions and of the country’s socio economic developmental history. As tough as it is, we must look at corruption concretely, and deal with formation of a framework from the tough and brutal reality of actually existing corruption, practices and trends in our country, our continent and the world.

What was meek and unconvincing, if not vague, was its concluding resolution on the way forward. This is the subject of a short paper that I am concluding, suffice it to say it appears that it does not take the process of tackling corruption much further.

The Summit resolved that greater ownership by the partners is called for and that the chairpersonship must be rotated.

1. That all three sectors must fully commit and take ownership of the NACF and the chair must rotate.
2. To strengthen the NACF and undertake a review of institutional arrangements including the role of leadership, composition, expanded participation and whether or not the NACF should become a statutory body.
3. To call on universities and professional bodies to expand their participation in the NACF.
4. That the NACF promotes dialogue within the sectors.

In the founding letters and spirit of its formation, these were exactly the concerns of the activists. The current thinking about considering becoming a “statutory” body on civil society side, may have more to do with the resourcing of the activities of the forum, in particular civil society participation rather than thinking of getting more clout for the forum. We know too well the limitations of some of the Chapter 9 institutions of the Constitution such as the Commission for Gender Equality, SA Human rights Commission, etc. such as relation to government (paymaster), questions of impact, autonomy, to name but one. In the founding memorandum, the NACF envisaged:

– that there will be 10 representatives of civil society, business and government (this has been difficult to fill for various reasons);
– that the chairpersonship will be rotated: the first chairperson of the forum was advocate Dali Mpofu, current CEO of the South African Broadcasting corporation, and the current chair of the forum, Geraldine Fraser, was put in this position after the forum was revived.

The MOU read that “the Forum shall appoint a Chairperson with two deputies from the other representative sectors.” According to the memorandum, the “Minister for the Public Service and Administration will convene members of the Public Sector.”

As regards convening the Forum, all partners have had and still have the right to convene meetings of the forum, but the issues of capacity (resources to do this) could result in the undoing of the forum as the only real capacity to operate effectively in a declining funding base are the corporate sector and government. This must be addressed preferably as long term funding for the NACF, inclusive of CSO participation rather than becoming some appendage of government, i.e. changing the statutory status. Reporting to parliament on an annual basis is a sufficient accountability for the public funds that are and will be disbursed. This was envisaged. What must be fully implemented – and was resolved at the 2005 summit – is the mobilisation of resources for effective civil society participation.

———

Resolutions of the third National Anti-Corruption Summit
5 August 2008

The third National Anti-Corruption Summit, hosted by the National Anti-Corruption Forum (NACF) from Monday, 4 August 2008 to Tuesday, 5 August 2008 in Ekurhuleni, adopted the resolutions below:

We the delegates drawn from various sectors of South African society attending the third National Anti-Corruption Summit at Birchwood, Ekurhuleni on 4 and 5 August 2008;

Building on the outcomes of the two previous National Anti-corruption Summits;

Cognisant of the central role of strong leadership in the fight against corruption;

Affirm fundamental significance of a National Integrity System in the fight against corruption in South Africa;

Respect our Constitutional values and institutional arrangements as the basis of the South African National Integrity System;

Recognise that South Africa has acceded to the United Nations (UN), African Union (AU), Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) international legal instruments on anti-corruption;

Recognise the progress made in the first 15 years of democracy and freedom towards a comprehensive national anti-corruption programme;

Noting that corruption undermines the democratic ethos and principles of our Constitution while eroding the social contract between citizens and the state;

Reaffirm the importance of inter-sectoral collaboration in the spirit of ubuntu;

Condemn the practice of price fixing and related issues;

Recognise the centrality of education in laying the foundation for an ethical society and success in combating corruption and the critical need for society to support education;

Call for the values of the National Integrity System to permeate the structures, practices and principles of the state, business and civil society sectors; and

Recommit ourselves at an individual level and call on all others to commit themselves to the process of moral regeneration and adherence to a value system of ethical conduct.

We therefore resolve as follows:

A. Ethical practices in social and economic life

1. That the National Anti-Corruption Forum (NACF) establishes a task team to urgently consolidate and articulate the National Integrity System.
2. To call on political parties and parliament to expedite the regulation of transparency in party political funding and to consider a sanctions mechanism.
3. To urge political parties in all three spheres of government to disclose their business interests.
4. To continue to strengthen monitoring and accountability mechanisms with respect to all tender processes in the public sector.
5. To support the swift regulation of post public sector employment for all elected and appointed public officials and its implementation.
6. To strengthen the current system of disclosure of interests for all elected and appointed public officials.
7. To develop systems of disclosure of interests for business and civil society.
8. To support legislative and other measures to ensure that companies found guilty of offenses of price fixing, market allocation and collusive tendering are prohibited from state tenders for a determined period.
9. To strengthen the enforcement provisions of the Competition Act including holding individuals accountable for price fixing, market allocation and collusive tendering.
10. To urge the business community to investigate self-regulating mechanisms to improve ethical conduct in practice.
11. To reaffirm that ethics must be infused in all aspects of the education system including the curriculum at all levels.
12. To reaffirm that schools of Business and Public Management must provide courses on professional ethics and anti-corruption.
13. To call for the strengthening of the institutional capacity of the private sector to detect and prevent corruption.
14. To complete the implementation of continental and international anti-corruption legal instruments and promote the enforcement thereof in national law.

B. Strengthening accountability, co-ordination and oversight

1. To strengthen anti-corruption bodies and improve coordination among them.
2. That all allegations of corruption must be investigated and prosecuted without fear or favour, in accordance with past and present anti-corruption legislation.
3. To reaffirm that sectors and professional bodies must adopt sector and profession specific codes of conduct and/or ethics as well as a training and communications regimes to support their application.
4. That the private sector must mainstream anti-corruption practices and report on them in annual reports in an accessible and transparent manner.
5. To promote national anti-corruption values and interests continentally and internationally.
6. To call for improved financial accountability and transparency of civil society organisations.
7. To strengthen the powers of oversight bodies for the business sector and promote co-ordination of their activities.
8. To promote the National Anti-Corruption Hotline and support the further development of capacity to respond to reported corruption.

C. Access to services through participatory governance

1. That all state entities improve service delivery through inter alia eliminating corrupt practices, encouraging whistleblowing and complying with the National Integrity System.
2. That services are offered to all citizens equitably and fairly.
3. That the NACF supports the urgent finalisation of the review of the Protected Disclosures Act and initiates a national conversation on building a culture of whistleblowing.
4. That participatory governance must be promoted to ensure that corruption and the abuse of power are addressed at the site of service delivery.
5. To implement effective anti-corruption communication and awareness programmes at community level, within the business sector and across civil society.
6. That public officials in all spheres of government must be trained in ethics, conflict of interest principles, constitutional and administrative law and the principles of Batho Pele.

D. National Anti-Corruption Forum

1. That all three sectors must fully commit and take ownership of the NACF and the chair must rotate.
2. To strengthen the NACF and undertake a review of institutional arrangements including the role of leadership, composition, expanded participation and whether or not the NACF should become a statutory body.
3. To call on universities and professional bodies to expand their participation in the NACF.
4. That the NACF promotes dialogue within the sectors.

For more information, contact:
Professor Richard Levin
Cell: 083 320 4129 (Government)

Alison Tilley
Cell: 083 258 2209 (Civil Society)

Vic Van Vuuren
Cell: 082 882 1759 (Business)

Issued by: Department of Public Service and Administration on behalf of Government, Business and Civil Society
5 August 2008

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