Free State Premier Sisi Ntombela says the provincial government will aggressively fight the scourge of corruption as it deprives communities of important services while a few people benefit through illicit means.
Ntombela said this in her inaugural State of the Province Address (SOPA) in Bloemfontein on Tuesday.
She said government has an obligation to ensure that all people in South Africa are and feel safe at all times and receive the services they are entitled to on time.
“This responsibility includes the fight against corruption and state capture in the province,” noted Ntombela.
“This declaration is no coincidence. Security is a public good… Development can only thrive in a secure and safe environment. Insecurity in all its varied forms threaten human security of citizens. It creates instability and reverse the gains of democracy,” she added.
The Premier said the province has also established Risk Management and Internal Audit committees in government departments and entities to identify weaknesses and minimise risks.
As part of the initiative, the province has implemented the Fraud Prevention and Detection Plans. This has seen about 22 officials being trained as Certified Fraud Examiners over the past five years. Another 12 officials will this year be trained.
Ntombela said the provincial government wanted to see small and medium enterprises thriving as this points to the growth of the local economy. It’s important for these businesses to be paid on time when they do business with the provincial government to avoid cases of corruption in order to speed up payments, among other things.
“All spheres of government must ensure that all legitimate and verified invoices are paid within 30 days. This is the only way that we can sustain Small and Medium Enterprises,” she explained.
The provincial government is also expected to streamline its procurement processes so that money is only spent on important goods and services.
“We have now decided to review our procurement plans and commitments with an intent to scale-down. We also introduced cost containment measures, which included the review of our performance targets,” said the Premier.
Police, Roads and Transport MEC Sam Mashinini told The Weekly during a press briefing on which he sat on the panels with the Premier that the province would have zero tolerance on corruption.
“We will stop at nothing, in the fight against corruption. I am sure some of you have realised that there are a number of people behind bars today for corruption. Some have lost their jobs. There are a number of areas that we will be looking into,” Mashinini said.
“The president has said there is no mercy for corruption. Absolutely none. Once you get involved, you face the consequences. There are no two ways about it. Perhaps I should indicate the impact of corruption; it hinders government progress. And I think all of us here have a role to play in that fight. Don’t whistleblow only for certain cases of corruption, whistleblow each time corruption raises its ugly head anywhere. That’s the attitude of the provincial government,” he noted.