Chairperson, may we, on behalf of the ACDP, also wish the Deputy Minister a very happy and blessed birthday.
One of the main goals of the National Development Plan, as has been pointed out, is to build a capable state to drive the country's development in order to address poverty and unemployment. Skilled public servants are needed to achieve this, public servants who are committed to the public good and capable of delivering high-quality services. We, as the ACDP, wish to commend those hardworking and dedicated public servants, many of them here in the gallery, who daily provide services and who do not line their own pockets. Well done, and keep up the good work! [Applause.]
Hon Minister, as you pointed out, however, this central engine of government, the Public Service, does need fixing. If it was working properly, we would most certainly not have the large number of service delivery protests, mostly at local government level, that we are experiencing at the moment.
We agree with you that one of the main problems is, of course, corruption. This must be addressed in both the public and the private sectors, hon Minister, as you pointed out. This is no easy task, however. The Minister of Finance, in his Budget Speech, acknowledged that rooting out corruption is "a difficult task with many points of resistance", and that "there are many people who have a stake in keeping the system the way it is".
Minister, we commend your plans to establish an anticorruption bureau, as well as your plans to prevent both current and former state employees from doing business with government. Banning government officials from doing business with the state is a significant step in the right direction. We, as the ADCP, look forward to studying the Public Administration Management Bill. The question arises whether the ban should also extend to close family members such as spouses. That is possibly included in the Bill, and we would like you to consider that.
Minister, you also mentioned the proposal to blacklist certain corrupt businesses. Now, we understand National Treasury already has such a blacklist, and we trust that this will amplify what you are suggesting, as well as cancelling the contracts where there is any corruption.
We would also like to suggest that the capacity of the Special Investigating Unit, SIU, and other law-enforcement agencies be increased. One of the members referred to the amount of R300 million that has been recovered, but the SIU estimates R30 billion is lost in state procurement. Now, that is 1% that we are recovering. We have given the SIU powers. They can recover the money speedily through civil litigation and we would suggest that if they were given increased capacity, we could reduce that R30 billion. We believe that is something we should look at. It will be a cost saving to the state.
We would also suggest we look at the Public Disclosures Act - the whistleblowers' Act - that needs to be strengthened to protect whistleblowers who divulge corruption and who are often victimised themselves.
Lastly, Minister, you are like a breath of fresh air to the Public Service Department. We in the ACDP trust you will fix this engine and turn it from an ailing Volkswagen Beetle to, possibly, a Toyota, or even a Ferrari. Thank you very much. [Applause.]