Madam Deputy Chairperson of the House, the government programme of action till 2014, as derived from the ANC election manifesto, rightly identifies the intensification of the fight against crime and corruption as one of the key priorities. It is important to note, therefore, that the first report of Scopa, the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, to come before this House this session dealt with the shortcomings within the SA Police Service in their fight against crime. The second report of Scopa dealt with corruption within the Public Service generally.
Equally important to note is that both reports are based on performance, as opposed to compliance audits, which speak directly to the quality, the depth and the nature of service delivery to the public.
Too often we tend to delink oversight over the public purse from the day-to- day performance issues that impact on the interaction of ordinary South Africans within the Public Service.
In the 1992 "Ready to Govern" policy document of the ANC, the ANC commented on the Public Service thus: "The civil service should be impartial in its functioning and be accountable both to Parliament and to the broad community it serves."
This report has its roots in the report issued by the Auditor-General to Parliament in January 2006, regarding, one, approval for government employees to perform other remunerative work; and, two, disclosure of financial interests by Ministers, Deputy Ministers and senior managers.
We all know that the report indicated that designated employees had failed to declare their interests and that the majority of government employees did not have approval to perform remunerative work outside their employment in government, as required by the relevant legislation and regulations. This then gave rise to a performance audit being concluded both nationally and provincially.
I shall briefly sketch out the main findings of the Auditor-General, whilst my colleague will delve deeper into some of the issues uncovered in the audit, suffice to say that it is not a pretty picture. We would be failing in our duty and responsibilities to the public if we were to shy away from raising these issues.
During the audit process, specific emphasis was placed on the performance of remunerative work; the declaration of registrable interests; the declaration of interests and standard bidding documents; deviation from supply-chain management; noncompliance with certain Treasury regulations and non-performance in terms of value-added tax legislation.
Scopa then heard and considered evidence on two occasions, from the directors-general of different departments, such as National Treasury; the Department of Public Service and Administration; the Department of Arts and Culture; the Department of Communications; the Department of Correctional Services - I'm happy the Minister is here - the Department of Labour; the Department of Police, the Department of Trade and Industry; and the list goes on.
Let me then sketch and point out the current situation as it stands. The regulatory framework used currently is applicable to all members of senior management services. That is where the crux of the problem lies. We don't understand why it excludes all the members below the senior levels, that is below directors. That is where we think the bulk of the problem is, because directors-general will not tender for something while their subordinates will do the same. We have uncovered particularly in the Department of Correctional Services.
The chapter reads: Unless it is otherwise provided for in his or her condition of employment, every officer and employee shall place the whole office or her time at the disposal of the state. The question is: If a person is allowed, as is the case in the current situation, to have work because he is below the threshold of senior management, when is he going to have the time to devote all his time and dedication to do the work for the state? We are of the view that this is supposed to be corrected.
The results, therefore, of our deliberations is the resolution now before this House, which my Scopa colleagues will deliberate on. However, I wish to focus on a worrying development with far-reaching implications for every parliamentary committee. It transpired as a result of our public hearings.
The parliamentary system of government is premised on the idea that public representatives, as representatives of the electorate, perform oversight of the work of the executive and the Public Service. In this regard, the Deputy President, while delivering his keynote address at our Apac - Association of Public Accounts Committees - conference, captured the nature of this engagement when he said: Our Constitution specifically requires the legislatures to provide for active mechanisms of oversight and to ensure that executive organs of state in the national and provincial spheres of government are accountable to legislatures.
That is what we are saying: Ministers, you are accountable to Parliament. That is what the Constitution is saying. The Constitution is specific about the type of society it wants to create and the values of accountability, of responsiveness and of having an open society.
As an oversight mechanism, public accounts committees have a great responsibility and must contribute to legislatures fulfilling their mandate of overseeing executive actions, with special focus on financial management and administration.
The Auditor-General has raised the bar. We are going to carry out performance audits. We have to engage, one way or another. The legislative framework will then force us to carry out oversight, where we will have to call in the Ministers. This is what the current performance audit, done by the Auditor-General, is saying currently, unless stated otherwise.
Our democratic system of government is critically dependent on transparency and accountability. The main responsibility for this is in the hands of the South African legislatures. When legislatures oversee and scrutinise the actions of the executive, they have to enforce accountability on the part of government. The Constitution prescribes that members of the executive, as Madam Pandor has said, are collectively and individually accountable and must regularly provide comprehensive reports regarding matters related to the performance of functions under their control.
Therefore, the need for strong parliamentary oversight and scrutiny guidelines are an essential part of promoting good governance and combating corruption, and this is an internationally accepted fact.
What the Deputy President said in his statement with regard to public accounts committees is applicable to all parliamentary bodies. It therefore pains me that during one of our interactions with an official from Arts and Culture that there was a high level of ill discipline, as the official came to Parliament and literally lied. We cannot accept that.
We want to send out a strong message to the officials that lying to Parliament is a crime. I'm happy to report to this House that the COO, Chief Operating Officer, concerned, of Arts and Culture, has since been suspended and we will follow up this matter with keen interest. [Applause.]
We are saying that this Public Service does not have a place for people who do not take their work seriously. We will follow this matter to the letter. I thank you. [Applause.]