Two sides of nepotism: Former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas told the Public Service Association that an immune system had to be built against corruption in the government as well as the private sector. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA
Two sides of nepotism: Former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas told the Public Service Association that an immune system had to be built against corruption in the government as well as the private sector. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA

The complicity of audit firm KPMG in corrupt activities showed that the private sector also had to be censured, former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas said on Monday.

The blurring of political positions and administrative roles had contributed to the weakening of public institutions, he said. Compounded by mass outsourcing, it had underpinned the growth of patronage networks in the government.

Jonas was addressing the Public Service Association (PSA) annual general meeting.

The PSA, which represents more than 230,000 public service workers, has been vocal in its opposition to state capture and corruption.

"If you can’t make that distinction between a political position and an administrative position or professional one, we are messed up in terms of capacity building," he said.

Jonas said after the meeting recent events pointing to wrongdoing by private businesses including KPMG, meant "we should not only censure the public sector, but the private sector too". SA had to build an immune system against corruption on all fronts.

Ivan Fredericks, GM of the association, said that while public servants had found it hard to speak against malfeasance before, there was a big shift in attitude among its members.

The trade union had started a process to ensure that its members were informed about whistle-blowing.

"In the recent past, they were afraid to speak up because of intimidation and victimisation."

The PSA also announced it would be tabling a 12% salary increase demand when public-sector wage negotiations get under way on October 16.

The figure had yet to be discussed with other trade unions, including those affiliated to Cosatu, before a final demand was agreed on for presentation to the government by the labour caucus, but it was unlikely to be lower.

Fredericks said workers would use the billions of rand lost to wasteful and irregular expenditure and corruption in the government as a benchmark of the state’s ability to offer workers an increase well above the inflation-targeted hike the Department of Finance punted.

Earlier this month, senior managers received a 5.5% cost-of-living adjustment that would will be backdated to April.

mahlakoanat@businesslive.co.za