NOTICE | Bafo Khanyeza: To keep the promises made to SONA, the government must get rid of corruption
The country’s official unemployment rate is 34.9%. Photo: Dino Lloyd/Gallo Images
If the government wants to fix the country’s unemployment rate, it should focus on filling government positions, but to do that, it needs to get rid of corruption. Bafo Khanyeza look at what some processes that can be implemented.
The State of the Nation Address (SONA) is nothing more than a fashion extravaganza and a boring speech.
With a record unemployment rate of 34.9%, young unemployed people do not need another speech. Instead, they need at least the implementation of last year’s pledges to root out corruption.
A chief economist estimated that an average of 450,000 jobs could be created if the country succeeded in eliminating corruption. An earlier study by the Department of Trade and Industry was mentioned in a written response by Minister Ebrahim Patel to Parliament on September 15, 2017. He said that South Africa is losing R27 billion on GDP and 76,000 jobs every year due to corruption in the public sector.
The first thing that can lead to pushing back the terrible frontiers of youth unemployment is filling government positions. There are at least 82,381 public positions in the health sector and 54,686 public teaching positions nationwide that have accumulated over time.
Serious interventions to stop corruption will automatically lead to employment because when funds are embezzled by corruption, as is happening now, that job is sacrificed and redirected to fill that gaping hole left by corruption.
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A classic example is the Limpopo Department of Health with four qualified audit opinions and one financial unqualified audit opinion over the past five years. Of its 64,302 of its vacancies, only 32,604 had been filled at the end of the 2020 financial year. Compare that to the Western Cape Province which has a long and rich history of good governance. He has had three unqualified audits and two unqualified financial audit reports in the last five years. In this province, its positions in the health sector are almost 100% filled.
A qualified audit opinion is based on a significant number of improper contracts in a department, some of which result in financial loss and some of which are not even disclosed. This means that money is being siphoned off by illegitimate processes. And behind these irregularities, there is probably corruption.
Impact on people’s livelihoods
A disclaimer audit opinion is based on irregular payments. This means that a government department makes random payments to random people or businesses with impunity and without any process involved. Simply put, it is a brazen theft that is very extreme compared to a qualified audit opinion. But they are both severe.
The understaffing of government positions in the health sector in Limpopo is not just a statistic but affects the actual livelihoods of people.
To the DA’s credit, he supported clean governance in the Western Cape, enabling the deposition of the post of government and better service delivery. The dismal failure of governance, especially in Tshwane where there was a ragged R12 billion Glad Africa scandal which was followed by a ragged R7 million handshake by a city manager, testifies that processes are essential to maintain clean governance. In short, South African corruption is systemic. And that comes from the fact that there are only political heads like the MEC; MMC or mayor who have the power to enforce accountability. And it’s called neo-patrimonialism. This is where accountability is personalized or stems directly from a leader rather than from a legitimate and transparent process for running a government.
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A permanent solution would be the institutionalization of accountability. Thus, whichever party is in power, it can be forced to engage in corruption. And proper governance should not become a function of who or which party is in power, because that would mean that good governance has not been institutionalized.
The only way to institutionalize or decentralize the power of accountability is to implement the Public Financial Management Act, Section (85) and the Municipal Financial Management Act, Section (175), disciplinary boards which will hold accountants accountable.
The establishment of disciplinary boards should work hand in hand with auditors using the Auditing Profession Act (2005). This is when the benefits of SA legislation and its constitution can be realized. The audit will then for the first time make sense in that it will lead to the cancellation of all irregular contracts resulting in financial loss which will stop the illegitimate diversion of funds intended for the poor.
If this possibility of remedying irregularities within the framework of the audit is not used, the independent and appropriate qualified disciplinary councils will be on hand to hold the accounting officers appropriately accountable, using the PFMA prescriptions (1999) or MFMA (2003) just after the audit.
– Bafo Thomas Khanyeza is a lecturer at Unisa. The opinions expressed are his own.
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