Ministers should resign amid corruption allegations – Vavi
Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi has called on ministers and senior government officials to voluntarily resign if any allegations of corruption surface against them.
He also said people who hold public office, such as the president, cabinet ministers, heads of department, unionists and other officials and their relatives should not be allowed to do business with the state.
Vavi was speaking at the International Anti-Corruption Day in Pretoria today where he said ANC members were likely to reject suggestions that politicians and senior government officials be barred from doing business with the state.
Vavi’s comments come just days after it was revealed that South Africa dropped to 69th spot, from 64th last year, out of 176 countries in the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index in 2012.
“We have to agree on some new rules. If you are the head of state, in Cabinet, in the public service, a government worker, a manager, a member of a union, you are in the ANC leadership and everywhere where you exercise some degree of influence … you must choose between business and the public sector.
“Once you do both at the same time it is inevitable that you will use your power to advantage your other interests. The power of capital to suck you into that world is just too much to resist,” said Vavi.
His comments were also echoed by the chairperson of the Public Service Commission, Ben Mthembu, who repeated the suggestion he had made in Parliament to ban public servants form doing business with the state.
But Vavi cautioned that if the issue were to come up at the party’s upcoming elective conference in Mangaung next week ANC members would reject it.
“There will obviously be resistance from people who stand to benefit from the status quo. There will be resistance.
“Your kids your wife, family must not do business with the institution that you can influence. If we can have only those two rules we will go a long way,” said Vavi.
ANC treasurer Mathews Phosa, who also attended the event, said the debate on whether public servants should be allowed to continue doing business with the state was likely to come up at the conference as the ANC was set to discuss “organisational renewal and ethics”.
Vavi used the occasion to also suggest that a five-year moratorium should be imposed on officials who want to leave the public service and go into business instead of the proposed one-year cooling-off period.
Vavi repeated his stern criticism of the ANC as having become a party with “Absolutely No Consequences” in reference to the ruling party’s response to the scourge of corruption.
“The culture of absolutely no consequences will continue in the absence of total prohibition. You can’t be a player and referee at the same. It’s just not possible. They must choose either to serve the public or go into business,” said Vavi.
He added that Cosatu’s calls for lifestyle audits to be conducted on leaders – “to see how people live” – was “unpopular” within the tripartite alliance.
He said government, business and civil society should work harder to turn the tide of public pessimism about government’s commitment to fighting corruption.
Vavi lashed some ANC members suspected of corrupt activities for mobilising “psychopaths” outside courts to march in their favour while they face criminal charges of corruption inside the courts.