From the desk of President Cyril Ramaphosa
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 public service, President Cyril Ramaphosa said in his weekly newsletter on Monday.
He said earlier this year, it was also found 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.
“And yet they did. Some 17,000 people employed in 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 our public servants know too well, this wilful intent to steal from the public purse is unforgivable.”
Ramaphosa said government is stepping up its efforts to prevent this kind of abuse and act against anyone in public service involved in wrongdoing.
As we work to end corruption, there must be equal focus on inculcating ethical behaviour because what may not necessarily be illegal can be unethical and unbecoming of a public servantPresident Cyril Ramaphosa
This month, government launched a Public Administration Ethics, Integrity and Disciplinary Technical Assistance Unit. The unit will build capacity within public bodies to institute disciplinary proceedings in cases of misconduct and cooperate with other organs of state to hold those responsible to account.
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 unit will monitor the conduct of lifestyle audits of public service employees. Where departments identify corruption and unexplained wealth, the cases will be referred to the police.
Ramaphosa said the unit is helping to identify public servants involved in cases related to Covid-19 procurement, the special Covid-19 grant and Unemployment Insurance Fund fraud.
“As we work to end corruption, there must be equal focus on inculcating ethical behaviour because what may not necessarily be illegal can be unethical and unbecoming of a public servant,” said Ramaphosa.
“Building an ethical, capable state continues to be a focus of this administration. As scandals involving public servants illegally benefiting from the state have shown, the process will be difficult and will take some time. We are nonetheless committed to stay the course.
“As Public Service Month draws to a close, I call on all the men and women who serve our country every day to recommit themselves to the values of selflessness and service, and to recall that their conduct must at all times be both legal and ethical. ”