Peo­ple talk about cor­rup­tion be­cause of ef­forts to fight it, says Zuma

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - CRAIG DODDS

SOUTH Africans talk so much about cor­rup­tion be­cause of gov­ern­ment ef­forts to fight it, ac­cord­ing to Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma.

“It is ac­tu­ally be­cause gov­ern­ment has ded­i­cated a lot of ef­fort to com­bat­ing cor­rup­tion, both in the pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tor, that cor­rup­tion has oc­cu­pied a pri­or­ity space in pub­lic di­a­logue,” Zuma said in a writ­ten re­ply to a par­lia­men­tary ques­tion yes­ter­day.

He was re­spond­ing to Cope leader Mo­siuoa Lekota, who had asked on what ba­sis Zuma had said in an ad­dress at the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum in Cape Town in June the coun­try had such a strong anti-cor­rup­tion cul­ture even the head of state was in­ves­ti­gated, and tax­pay­ers’ money could not be taken by peo­ple in gov­ern­ment for their own use.

Lekota asked on what ev­i­dence Zuma had based this, given the many in­stances of cor­rup­tion dis­closed by an­nual au­di­tor- gen­eral re­ports, the pub­lic pro­tec­tor and in­ves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ism and when in­ves­ti­ga­tions were “thwarted when they come too close to po­lit­i­cal elites… sel­dom fol­lowed up with pros­e­cu­tion and… ren­dered fu­tile”, as had hap­pened in the case of the pub­lic pro­tec­tor’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion into spend­ing at Nkandla.

Zuma has ig­nored an in­struc­tion by the pub­lic pro­tec­tor to re­pay a rea­son­able por­tion of the costs of up­grades to his home car­ried out by the state, which she deemed to be un­re­lated to se­cu­rity, ar­gu­ing that her re­me­dial ac­tions were merely rec­om­men­da­tions.

That po­si­tion has been called into ques­tion by a Supreme Court of Ap­peal rul­ing last month that pub­lic pro- tec­tor find­ings could be over­turned only by a court.

Zuma re­sponded in his writ­ten re­ply to Lekota by say­ing the fight against cor­rup­tion had been high on the agenda since democ­racy, and in­cluded a “plethora of mea­sures” to erad­i­cate it.

Fur­ther steps in­cluded the strength­en­ing of pro­tec­tion of whis­tle- blow­ers, en­sur­ing greater cen­tral over­sight of large ten­ders and em­pow­er­ing the ten­der com­pli­ance mon­i­tor­ing of­fice to in­ves­ti­gate cor­rup­tion.

He said the coun­try’s “wellde­vel­oped le­gal frame­work” for fight­ing cor­rup­tion in­cluded the Preven­tion and Com­bat­ing of Cor­rup­tion Act of 2004, “one of the most im­por­tant pieces of leg­is­la­tion en­acted by Par­lia­ment”. He also listed agen­cies with pow­ers to in­ves­ti­gate cor­rup­tion, like the spe­cial in­ves­ti­gat­ing unit, au­di­tor- gen­eral, pub­lic pro­tec­tor, pub­lic ser­vice com­mis­sion, SAPS, Hawks and the Na­tional Pros­e­cut­ing Author­ity.

“The fight against cor­rup­tion is a con­tin­u­ous and dy­namic process,” Zuma said.

“As new man­i­fes­ta­tions of cor­rup­tion are re­vealed, gaps in the ex­ist­ing ap­proach, strate­gies, in­ter­ven­tions and ap­pli­ca­tion of ex­ist­ing leg­is­la­tion and poli­cies are iden­ti­fied for strength­en­ing and re­view.”

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