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National charter against corruption in public procurement mooted

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo chairs the commission of inquiry into state capture. PHOTO: Getrude Makhafola /ANA

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo chairs the commission of inquiry into state capture. PHOTO: Getrude Makhafola /ANA

Published Jun 22, 2022

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THE state capture commission of inquiry says the appointment of individuals to the boards of state-owned entities (SOEs) should be justifiable based on their skills, expertise, experience and knowledge.

In his report made public on Wednesday night, Chief Justice Raymond Zondo said functionaries within SOEs must be held to the highest standards of accountability because they use public funds to manage the businesses they oversee.

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Zondo also said the government, in consultation with the business sector and the public, should come up with a national charter against corruption in public procurement.

He said the proposed charter should include a code of conduct setting out the ethical standards which apply in the procurement of goods and services for the public.

“Every procurement officer in the public shall on assuming duty be required to sign a commitment to observe and uphold the terms of the national charter. The national charter and the code of conduct should be given legal standing and effect by an Act of Parliament,” the chief justice said.

Zondo also said there should be an independent agency against corruption in public procurement.

“The government must introduce legislation for the establishment of an independent public procurement anti-corruption agency.”

He added that the government must introduce or amend legislation to ensure any person disclosing information to reveal corruption, fraud and or undue influence in public procurement activity be accorded the protections stipulated in the UN Convention Against Corruption.

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Such legislation should authorise the offer of immunity from criminal or civil proceedings if there has been an honest disclosure of the information which might otherwise render the informant liable to prosecution or litigation, Zondo said.

Zondo said there should be creation of a procurement officers profession.

“It is recommended that consideration is given to enacting legislation that will establish a professional body to which all officials who work in the area of public procurement should belong.

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“Such a professional body will fix the qualifications and the necessary training and experience necessary for membership of the profession,” he said, adding that training and qualification should include high standards of integrity and commitment to resist mismanagement, waste and corruption.”

He said a tribunal of the agency should act as a disciplinary committee of the profession with power to strike a member from the roll or impose other disciplinary sanctions.

Zondo also recommended that the Political Party Funding Act be amended to criminalise the making of donations to political parties in the expectation of or with a view to the grant of procurement tenders or contracts as a reward for or in the recognition of such grants having been made.

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