Public Service and Administration Minister Ayanda Dlodlo encouraged government employees to work together with ethics officers on lifestyle audits and help curb corruption.
Government introduced compulsory lifestyle audits across national and provincial departments in April last year.
“By the end of January this year, 16 national and 17 provincial departments had commenced with lifestyle audits. Some went further to conduct lifestyle investigations on possible conflict of interest.
“Now, as it happens people panic whenever they face an investigation. I will advise that you cooperate, because in most times, those being investigated get vindicated, It is an opportunity for you to get vindicated if indeed you are ethical,” Dlodlo said at the department’s lifestyle imbizo held in Ekurhuleni.
‘Screws are tightening in government’
The minister warned those who are involved in corruption and criminality that the “screws are tightening” in government.
“Those involved in criminal conduct must know that sooner or later, they will be detected through lifestyle audits. We cannot professionalise the public service and improve economic growth if we condone unethical behaviour and ignore corruption.
“These employees know who they are, and they must know we are aware of who they are as they have already been identified by law enforcement agencies and are under investigation. They might not know as yet that they are being investigated.”
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Following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s remarks on the necessity for lifestyle audits in his 2018 Sona, the chief director of the public administration ethics, integrity and disciplinary technical assistance unit (TAU) was established in 2019, and is led by Salomon Hoogenraad-Vermaak.
Dlodlo said the massive Covid-19 procurement scandal that implicated those in the public services indicated the importance of audits.
“Lifestyle audits are not a punitive measure and certainly not adopted because we regard corruption among civil servants to be alarming, but we cannot deny that we do have corrupt public servants.
This was painfully laid bare during Covid lockdown where a public employees were found to be involved in procurement theft and other criminal conduct.”
Some employees took advantage of the lockdown while at home and never did any work.
“During lockdown when we worked virtually, there were a number of people who were missing in action, but did not fill in leave forms. That also speaks to ethics, its not only about corruption but employer trusting you to not steal work hours to watch [television programs] MojaLove or HouseWives,” Dlodlo said.