Johannesburg - A special anti-corruption unit was launched on Wednesday to shape up the public service sector and shake out officials with suspect business dealings, the Public Service and Administration department said.
"(We) cannot tolerate any embezzlement of funds. We cannot tolerate a situation where the community feel that they have to either bribe their way through or contend without a service they otherwise deserve for free," Public Service and Administration Minister Richard Baloyi said in a speech prepared for delivery in Boksburg.
"Our nest is threatened, and like a wasp, we shall sting," he said.
Baloyi said the unit would mainly investigate the business dealings of officials within the department.
The focus would be on their undeclared business interests, failure to disclose these interests when doing business with government, work on the side without permission and the soliciting or receipt of bribes in return for doing or not doing official duties.
Ethics officers in each department would compile a register to this effect and publish it in the public interest, as well as have it communicated by Baloyi on June 23 of every year.
"The 23rd of June will be observed as Africa Public Service Day...in this current intervention, we will (also) communicate good conduct, recognise, respect and reward," he said.
The ultimate performance outcome of the unit would be a reduction in corruption incidents, an increase in the number of cases reported and an increase in the amount of embezzled money recovered.
The unit would also aim to increase finalised and concluded cases as well as reduce the negative perception of corruption in the sector.
Baloyi said the unit would function as three divisions, namely the investigation division, the legal and disciplinary division, and the strategic information management division, which would ensure adequate security for whistle blowers, informants and information provided.
"We will work closely with the public service commission, Treasury, chapter nine institutions, special investigating unit, SA police service, civil society, business formations and all volunteers," he said.
"The state information technology agency (Sita) will play a critical role to ensure that we use technology to enhance the effectiveness of this intervention."
Baloyi said it was important to deal not only with the corrupt in question, but with their environment as well.
"In dealing with the environment that gives rise to corruption, we start with the area of ethics and integrity, reward well-mannered public servants and expose the rotten apples... and ensure that performance assessments include behavioural aspects of public servants," he said.
Baloyi said public service legislation and regulations could be changed from June next year to help achieve the unit's objectives.
In the meantime, the unit would operate at a co-ordination level.