After 17,000 public servants fraudulently benefitted from the 350 rand (23 U.S. dollars) Special COVID-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant meant for the poor every month, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday said plans were in place to root out this kind of fraud.
“Government is now stepping up its efforts to prevent this kind of abuse and act against anyone in the public service involved in wrongdoing,” he wrote in his weekly newsletter.
The government introduced the SRD last year to assist people who had no income due to heavy lockdown. However some public servants both at national and provincial levels applied for the grant.
Ramaphosa said a new Public Administration Ethics, Integrity and Disciplinary Technical Assistance Unit has been established to handle disciplinary proceedings in cases of misconduct within the sector.
“The unit will refer corruption cases to the government’s Anti-Corruption Task Team and follow up with departments to ensure criminal cases involving public servants translate into disciplinary cases,” the president said.
He said the unit would monitor public workers’ financial lifestyles.
“The unit will monitor the conduct of lifestyle audits of public service employees. Where departments identify corruption and unexplained wealth, the cases will be referred to the South African Police Service,” he said.
He said the unit would also look at issues involving public servants who were doing business with the state as this was not permitted.
Ramaphosa acknowledged that South Africa had a long way towards inculcating the culture of ethics within the public sector.
“As we work to end corruption, there must be equal focus on inculcating ethical behavior, because what may not necessarily be illegal can be unethical and unbecoming of a public servant,” he added. Enditem