DA calls for tough sanctions after the state loses R1.5 billion to financial misconduct

Issued by Mimmy Gondwe MP – DA Member of Parliament
14 Nov 2023 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Mimmy Gondwe MP

In yet another confirmation of the deepening decay in the public service – at both national and provincial departments, a written reply to a DA parliamentary question by the Minister of Public Service and Administration – Minister Noxolo Kiviet, revealed that the 523 cases of financial misconduct by public servants reported during the 2021/2022 financial year have cost the state a staggering R1.5 billion. The written reply further revealed that the state has only been able to recover a minuscule R6 million or 0.47% of the total amount that was lost to financial misconduct.

The DA is calling on the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) to codify the sanctions that should be imposed for financial misconduct, on the part of public servants, by standardising the disciplinary code on financial impropriety.

Financial misconduct in the public service will only get worse for as long as the current system, which imposes light, inconsistent and inconsequential sanctions on offenders, remains in place.

DPSA’s lack of tough action against public servants involved in financial misconduct, is entrenching a culture of impunity and not enough deterrence against would be offenders. In the reply, it was also revealed that:

• A Lieutenant Colonel in the Department of Defence accused of irregular expenditure to the tune of R8 million only received a reprimand;

• Two Directors and two Deputy Directors in the Department of Employment and Labour who lost R66 million due to gross negligence kept their job with just a final written warning. The Department says they are not liable for the loss yet it issued them with final written warnings.

• A public servant in the Department of Trade and Industry who wasted close to R2 million of state funds had their written warning withdrawn after they appealed and the state will not be taking any steps to recover the money.

It is a cause for concern that public servants in national government departments account for R1.3 billion of this loss when compared to their provincial counterparts who account for R230 million of this loss. The national sphere of government, is the sphere of government which receives the largest allocation or portion of the national budget, and yet it has poor financial controls which are making it easy for some public servants to misuse and abuse taxpayers’ money.

The DPSA is failing in its role to set norms and standards that will not only deter public servants from engaging in financial misconduct but also result in significant consequences for those caught on the wrong side of the law. It cannot be business as usual when the South African taxpayer is robbed blind of R1.5 billion, at a time, when the country’s public finances are in such a deep crisis. The professionalisation of the public service will remain a pipe dream for as long as the DPSA folds its arms and refuses to introduce strong consequence management interventions to deter malfeasance in the public service.

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