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Mon Sep 26 09:06:54 SAST 2016

Declare or you're out, public servants told

QAANITAH HUNTER | 23 September, 2016 06:27
Public Service Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi.
Image by: Business Day / Puxley Mokgatho / Gallo Images

Public servants who do business with the state will be fired if they don't give up their business interests by January next year.

Ngoako Ramatlhodi, the Minister of Public Service and Administration, addressing a press conference of the cabinet's governance and administration cluster yesterday, said it was high time public servants chose between working in the state and doing business with the government.

Ramatlhodi said government employees were informed last month that they had to regularise their business affairs by January .

Ramatlhodi said the tough new rule would not only apply to employees of government departments but would also be extended to other organs of state such as the courts and Chapter 9 institutions like the Office of the Public Protector and the SA Human Rights Commission.

The new regulations also bar public servants from accepting gifts from the public and companies that do business with government departments.

"The reviewed public service regulations include clauses that prohibit public servants from accepting gifts when performing their official duties, conducting business with any organ of state, or being a director of a public or private company conducting business with an organ of state," the minister said.

He said this was part of the government's plan to clamp down on corruption in the public service.

Civil servants had ample time to decide between serving the public or venturing into business, the minster said.

Ramatlhodi's department has set up a unit to monitor compliance, track the activities of civil servants and to ensure that their private businesses are disclosed to the state.

"Among the measures we will take is to fire a person," he said.

Ramatlhodi said the government was working on a system to monitor public servants employed at local government level as well.

He said the government's payroll system Persal had already been configured to capture the remunerative activities of civil servants.

"When you doing business with the government it is easy to detect because we are the government," Ramatlhodi said.

The auditor-general found in 2013 that state tenders worth R600-million had gone to companies with links to state employees.

The Special Investigating Unit also found that 235 employees in the Health Department benefited from tenders worth R42.8-million.

The Basic Education Department has also revealed how more than 3,000 of its employees received state tenders with a combined value of R152-million between 2010 and 2012.

Andries Nel, the Deputy Minister for Local Government, said the public service commission would also be roped in to help monitor compliance with the new rules.

"There is a routine mini-lifestyle audit performed on all those declarations," he said.

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