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