Home South African State employees to face criminal charges for doing business with government

State employees to face criminal charges for doing business with government

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Public servants doing business with national and provincial government departments and other organs of state will be subjected to criminal prosecution. This is among three directives issued by Public Service and Administration Minister Noxolo Kiviet, which came into effect on April 1.

Public Service and Administration Minister Noxolo Kiviet wants tougher action for government staff doing business with their employer. Picture: Jacques Naude, Independent Newspapers

PUBLIC servants doing business with national and provincial government departments and other organs of state will be subjected to criminal prosecution.

This is among three directives issued by Public Service and Administration Minister Noxolo Kiviet, which came into effect on April 1.

The department’s director-general, Yoliswa Makhasi, said two of the directives were first issued in 2016 and 2017 but have now been changed.

The directive on conducting business with an organ of the state prohibits an employee from registering on the National Treasury’s central supplier database as an individual, owner of a company or director of a public or private company.

It also requires the head of department to open a case for employees who are conducting business with an organ of state with the SA Police Service (SAPS) in compliance with the Public Administration Management Act (Pama).

According to the department, there is also a list of activities that do not constitute conducting business with an organ of state, which has been reviewed and streamlined for better understanding by employees and authorities.

The activities not constituting doing business with the state include participation in marking, training, teaching or lecturing at public educational institutions, and official activities undertaken on a part- time basis, either temporarily or permanently, to a number of departments in terms of an employee’s employment.

Working at the Electoral Commission of SA as voting staff during elections, volunteering their services to the board of their professional associations through nomination or election by their peers, which must be confirmed by a letter from the association, are also not considered conducting business with the state.

The same applies to being appointed to an organ of the state in an official capacity as a director of an entity listed in the Public Finance Management Act, where an employee is reimbursed for reasonable expenses.

In addition, the directive also indicates that should a head of department not take action against an employee for three months, the matter must be reported to the relevant minister and the department’s public administration ethics, integrity and disciplinary technical assistance unit will then report the case of conducting business with the state to the SAPS in line with Pama.

Contraventions of the act could land a public servant in jail for a period not exceeding five years.

”When an institution discovers an act of corruption, such corruption must immediately be reported to the police for investigation in terms of any applicable law including the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act. Issues of misconduct emanating from criminal investigations must be reported to the unit and the relevant head of institution for initiation and institution of disciplinary proceedings,” reads the directive.

In November, Kiviet revealed to DA MP Dr Mimmy Gondwe that public servants in 60 national and provincial government departments were in business with the government.

The number of public servants who were found to be doing business with the state in the 2020/21 financial year was 484, while there were 181 in 2021/22 and another 366 in the 2022/23 financial year, according to Kiviet.

She added that the department had formed a task team with the SAPS and the National Prosecuting Authority to assist departments to act against employees conducting business with the government.

Kiviet said seven SAPS officials were charged and convicted of conducting business with the state under the Pama and were dismissed from police service.

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