Consulting Engineers South Africa (CESA) welcomes the Department of Public Works actions to eradicate corruption, but it is of the view that there needs to be an awareness that corruption is an activity perpetuated by criminals, and as such, totally unacceptable within the public sector.
CESA is making a clarion call that the department needs to automatically enforce the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Act (PRECCA) and lay criminal charges against employees reasonably suspected of corruption.
Disciplinary hearings, although required in terms of the Constitution and legislation, are a “soft option” for Government and are ineffective in that the disciplinary process is easily abused and can be drawn out through postponements, unavailability of witnesses, illness or other factors.
“The officials administering the disciplinary process are often relatively inexperienced and untrained in the process, and are often at the mercy of union officials who are well experienced and trained in the process. Employees often escape the disciplinary process by resigning before the initiation of an inquiry into the offence,” says CESA CEO Graham Pirie.
He adds that CESA would like to see the Department taking stronger action in its war against corruption by increasing the transparency of its procurement process by regularly publishing on its website full details of its tender awards in terms of construction contractors, built environment professionals and other service providers.
Publishing the outcome of successful prosecutions against officials and service providers and blacklisting guilty service providers (and officials) as well as taking
steps to prevent the re-employment / transfer of guilty officials within the three tiers of Government will be welcomed.
Pirie points out that it is imperative to ensure continuity and standardization of procurement processes and documentation across the disparate National Department and Provincial departments of Public Work.
“For its part CESA will continue with and strengthen its efforts to ensure the integrity of its member firms, as well as legally challenging irregular public procurement practice by clients wherever these may occur, utilising funding from its newly created ’War Chest’”.