Senzo Mchunu. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON
Senzo Mchunu. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON

The department of public service and administration is finalising draft regulations for the conduct of lifestyle audits of government employees, public service and administration minister Senzo Mchunu said in the National Council of Provinces on Thursday.

He said the lifestyle audits would apply across government from cabinet ministers to local government employees. It would also extend to senior executives of state-owned enterprises and elected political representatives.

Lifestyle audits allow investigators to establish whether a person is living within his or her means. There has been a strong demand for lifestyle audits in government as one way of rooting out corruption.

The minister said his department was busy finalising the legislative framework which would enable all government departments including local government to conduct lifestyle audits of their employees.

“Draft regulations have been prepared for public comment. It is coming and it is desirable,” Mchunu said. “We want to do it as soon as possible — to begin with this in far less than six months.”

He did not foresee any impediment to the process after the adoption of a departmental organogram which would be finalised in a week’s time.

The organogram would provide for a specialised ethics and disciplinary technical assistance unit which would assist departments to conduct lifestyle audits and where required refer matters to the relevant law enforcement authority.

Mchunu said the revision of the ministerial handbook which has taken several years was now complete and was with President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Cost cutting

The handbook details the perks and privileges allowed to ministers and deputy ministers such as the permitted hotel accommodation, type of vehicle and class of flights. The minister said about 80% of the review was aimed at cutting costs.

A question put to the minister by ANC MP Zukiswa Ncitha was whether in the light of the recent murder of a 19-year-old University of Cape Town student at a branch of the SA Post Office, the department had undertaken an audit of the criminal records of employees in the public service. The alleged murderer had a criminal record.

Mchunu said the information currently kept by the department did not include previous criminal activities committed by employees. The constitution might not permit the outright prohibition of the employment of someone with a criminal record. But to ensure the suitable placement of people with criminal records and to ensure the safety of other employees “it may be necessary for information relating to criminal records of employees to be maintained.

“There may be a specific need to close this gap. We are moving towards that,” the minister said. The department needed to explore the possibility of having a system of identifying employees with criminal records, he said.

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