If unethical practices continue to plague local governance, the country will not be able “investigate and prosecute” away crippling government corruption, says National Director of Public Prosecutions, Advocate Shamila Batohi.
Batohi was addressing the launch of the Local Government Anti-Corruption Forum (LGACF) and the Local Government Ethical Leadership Initiative by Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) Minister, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.
The LGACF was established in October 2020 under the chairship of the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), supported by the Department of Cooperative Governance (DCOG) as the Secretariat.
The forum was formed with the intention to foster collaboration and coordination amongst the various stakeholders at the local government level on anti-corruption matters.
Delivering the keynote address, the Dlamini Zuma said where there is good governance, there is “little room for corruption”.
“If there’s accountability, you minimise corruption. If there’s integrity, you minimise (corruption). If you are value-driven, you also minimise corruption. So we can’t just talk about the end result, you must talk about the whole value chain.
“If the value chain is right, the end result will be right. If the value chain is wrong, then the end-result will be wrong. We must have ethics, integrity, accountability and good governance,” she said.
Corruption, she said, was “an end result of an unethical behaviour, bad governance and non-accountable leadership”.
She urged leaders across society to “do the right thing”.
“As leaders, we must be the conscience of the organisation. We must make sure that in the organisation, the right thing is done. You must make sure that there is accountability.
“At the end of the day, you must be prepared to take responsibility for the wrongdoing. It is people who do wrong, it is not local government as a sphere. It is not government as an institution, it is people who do wrong,” said Dlamini Zuma.
She said it is critical for society to be ethical, disciplined and transparent.
On law enforcement, she said agencies should be accountable and impartial.
She decried the time it takes for cases to be finalised in court after the initial arrest of suspects, saying this has the potential to discredit police investigations and prosecutions.
“It erodes the trust in (law enforcement systems),” she said.
Special Investigating Unit (SIU) head, Adv. Andy Mothibi, said corruption is prevailing in every sector of society, and not just local government.
An anti-corruption vulnerable sector risk assessment conducted by the National Anti-Corruption Local Government Ethical Leadership Initiative (LGELI) found that corruption is perverse in all sectors of society.
The exercise identified risks in the health, local government, infrastructure, border management, State-owned entities, education, NPOs, and energy sector, among others.
Batohi said while government has good crime fighting strategies, the country often does not implement these.
“Together in law enforcement, we are working really hard on the reactive side of fighting corruption. But let us [face facts]: the root cause – particularly in the local government space – is a lack of good governance and ethical leadership. That is where we need to focus,” she said.
The NDPP reiterated that the country cannot “investigate and prosecute” itself from the problem of corruption, “as long we do not attend to the root cause”.
“If you look at our anti-corruption strategy, there is a huge part of it that deals with the preventative side, which requires a huge range of government stakeholders to come to the party,” she said.
Source: South African Government News Agency