Corruption rises in the public service

Date: 14 Jun 2007
The number of alleged corruption cases in the public service had increased over the past three years, with an average of 82 reported each month. According to a Public Service Commission (PSC) report released yesterday, 4 182 cases were reported, of which 2 296 were corruption related and 1 105 were service-delivery complaints. The cases were reported to the national anti-corruption hotline between September 2004 and November 2006. The PSC found that most reported cases - 320 - related to unethical behaviour by public servants and included the abuse of power and non-compliance with official working hours. "Given the efforts by the government to instil a high level of professional ethics in the public service, this is a concern to the PSC," the report stated. A total of 234 cases related to procurement irregularities, 233 to the abuse of government vehicles, while several other complaints concerning the mismanagement of school funds and irregularities around the allocation of housing subsidies were also received. The PSC questioned whether public servants were adequately informed about the requirements of the code of conduct for the public service. The report comes as thousands of public servants took to the streets across the country yesterday to demand improved salaries. The PSC complained that responses by government departments to investigations were "frustratingly slow" and that of the 2 296 referred cases, only 830 were responded to. It was not clear how many of the reported cases were found to have substance and what the fate of the public servants were. Meanwhile, the PSC said duplication and differing definitions of poverty were "diffusing" the government's attempts to improve standards of living. The PSC said the government had to develop a national strategy, norms and standards for the implementation of poverty reduction programmes. By Boyd Webb The Star 14/06/07 e1