On Wednesday, the Auditor-General released his latest report, revealing that R2.2 billion went to unauthorised, fruitless and wasteful expenditure last financial year in the three major ANC-run metros, Johannesburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay, while for DA-run Cape Town that amount was zero. The level of unauthorised, fruitless and wasteful expenditure is a good indication of the level of corruption in a government.
These numbers go a long way to explaining why DA governed municipalities are leading in job creation and service delivery, because clean local governments attract investment and have more money to spend on meeting the needs of their communities. Rampant corruption, on the other hand, tends to go hand in hand with high levels of unemployment and poor service delivery – because it kills economic development, and drains public funds.
Corruption is very often a consequence of an ill-considered policy. For example, giving councillors the power to allocate RDP houses introduces the temptation to resort to bribery. Conversely, policies that avoid such temptations encourage clean government. The propensity of a party’s policies to enable or disable corruption is therefore hugely important. So, with just two months to go until the Municipal Elections on 3 August, now is a good time to analyse the manifestos for their corruption-boosting or corruption-busting potential.
There are three key factors to consider when building integrity and fighting corruption in local government:
- Is the process or system transparent? (Does the public have access to the information they need to assess its integrity?)
- Has all potential for a conflict of interest been avoided? (Have perverse incentives been minimised?)
- Is there independent oversight of the process or system? (Are public officials held accountable for their decisions and actions?)
On these criteria, I conclude that there is once again “clear blue water” between the DA’s manifesto and those of the ANC and EFF. The DA’s LGE2016 manifesto seeks to stop corruption by maximizing transparency though public participation:
- Ensuring that, as far as possible, all Council and committee meetings are open to the public so that local government decisions are open and transparent.
- Ensuring that all Municipal Public Accounts Committees (MPACs) are open to public scrutiny to increase transparency.
- Opening up the tender process (to public scrutiny) at the adjudication stage to ensure that tenders are awarded fairly to companies which offer the most value for money.
- Managing lists for housing opportunities, including serviced sites, which are credible, free from manipulation and ensure the development of a standard, transparent, and fair process for selecting beneficiaries.
Similarly, the DA manifesto seeks to minimize conflict of interest by:
- Requiring councillors and officials to disclose their financial interests every year to ensure there are no conflicts of interest, and to make this information available to the public.
- Excluding councillors and other public representatives from the EPWP recruitment and appointment process so that EPWP opportunities are allocated fairly and not in return for favours or because of political connection.
- Instilling a zero-tolerance policy where we govern towards public servants doing business with government, to prevent possible conflict of interest and a heightened possibility of corruption.
- Appointing all government staff fairly, based on the value that they add to the organisation and not their political connections.
- Putting an end to all wasteful and fruitless expenditure, especially on luxury items like expensive cars and lavish parties that only benefit politicians, not residents.
Finally, our manifesto ensures maximum accountability by:
- Establishing competent and independent audit committees to analyse and investigate issues identified by the Auditor-General to promote clean governance and identify corrupt activity.
- Establishing an effective system to process complaints and to report corruption.
- Where appropriate, establishing Forensic Investigation Units to address allegations of corruption.
- Making sure that these Municipal Public Accounts Committees (MPACs) are chaired by an opposition councillor to enhance oversight on public spending.
All of these policies, and many others, have been designed by the DA to ensure clean government that provides fair access to local government opportunities coupled with efficient and effective delivery.
In contrast, the ANC’s LGE2016 manifesto commits to fighting corruption, but is vague on the specifics:
- Mobilising communities to play an active part in fighting fraud and corruption.
- Ensuring there are consequences for municipal councils’ illegal decisions. (This rings particularly hollow when the ANC can’t even ensure consequences for the President’s illegal decisions.)
In addition, the ANC has a well-established policy of cadre deployment (formally adopted at its Polokwane Conference in 2007), which entrenches conflicted interests, by making appointments based on party loyalty rather than delivery to citizens. It naturally leads to the systems of patronage and corruption already well-established in many ANC-run municipalities and metros around SA.
The EFF’s LGE2016 manifesto promises corruption-free municipalities and saint-like councillors without any concrete suggestions for how to achieve these.
- The EFF’s People’s Municipality will be transparent, corruption-free and ensure there is value for money in every cent.
- A revolutionary councillor abolishes his/her ego and attachments to personal success; she or he is selfless.
These are good intentions indeed, but they have little merit unless they can be acted on, which in the absence of specific policies to stop corruption, is unlikely.
Anyone who takes the time to compare the three manifestos will see that only the DA offers specific policies to ensure the transparency, accountability and interest-alignment that clean government requires.
But nothing says more about the ability of its policies to stop corruption than the party’s actual performance in government. Where the DA governs, we have delivered sound financial management, as confirmed by the Auditor General’s latest report.
Of the 26 DA-governed municipalities in SA, 21 delivered totally “clean” audits. This is a wonderful achievement and it shows that we are continuing to make progress every year. In the Western Cape, 73% of the municipalities achieved clean audits. By contrast, only 33% of Gauteng municipalities (DA-run Midvaal among them) and 30% of KwaZulu-Natal municipalities had clean audits.
Our corruption-busting approach has enabled DA governments to create thousands of jobs and deliver better services to millions of poor South Africans that desperately need them. And this is the change that we want to bring to more governments around the country. On 3 August, you can bring this change to your municipality. A vote for the DA is a vote that stops corruption.