LETTER: SA needs effective anti-graft unit

by | Feb 5, 2024 | Chapter 9, General | 0 comments

SA’s greylisting, and the government’s failure to act decisively against those fingered by the Zondo state capture commission, may have contributed to the slippage. However, dealing with corruption was an issue the president promised to address when he ascended to office in 2018 after his predecessor (whose worst CPI score was 43 in 2013) resigned. That oft-repeated promise will come to naught unless the president dramatically changes tack.

SA is a party to the UN Convention Against Corruption. Article 6 (2) obliges SA “to grant [its anti-corruption machinery] the necessary independence, in accordance with the fundamental principles of its legal system,” to enable that machinery to “carry out its functions effectively and free from any undue influence. The necessary material resources and specialised staff, as well as the training that such staff may require to carry out their functions, should be provided”.

The supremacy of the rule of law is a fundamental principle of our constitution. The government is bound by the orders and decisions of the Constitutional Court in the Glenister litigation in which the criteria applicable to our anti-corruption entity are set out in detail.

Chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng put it thus in the last Glenister case a decade ago: “All South Africans across the racial, religious, class and political divide are in broad agreement that corruption is rife in this country and that stringent measures are required to contain this malady before it graduates into something terminal. We are in one accord that SA needs an agency dedicated to the containment and eventual eradication of the scourge of corruption. We also agree that that entity must enjoy adequate structural and operational independence to deliver effectively and efficiently on its core mandate.”

Having invoked international obligations and the rule of law in the case of SA v Israel before the International Court of Justice, it is high time SA honoured its UN Convention Against Corruption obligations via reforms of the kind that incorporate the criteria required by the courts.

There is an urgent need for an effective and efficient anti-corruption entity. SA has been without one since the demise of the Scorpions in 2009.

Paul Hoffman, SC
Director, Accountability Now

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