DWS tightens hand on officials’ misconduct

The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) has reiterated its commitment to root out fraud and corruption, which often stems from gross misconduct by officials who have no respect for good government principles and conduct.

The department said that over the years, the impact of fraud and corruption has negatively affected the provision of consistent and reliable water supply, as well as dignified sanitation facilities to communities in most parts of the country.

The department said through enhanced and collaborative measures implemented within the department and alongside law enforcement agencies, 55 cases of the 63 disciplinary cases have been finalised as of 31 December 2022.

“Of the 55 cases, 39 officials were found guilty through disciplinary processes and the sanctions implemented included suspension without pay, final written warnings and dismals, amongst others,” the department said in a statement.

To fast track the investigations of disciplinary cases, the department said Director-General, Dr Sean Phillips, approved the revival of the Consequence Management Committee in March 2022, which is an administrative structure that seeks to provide oversight, accountability, and support of the implementation of consequence management.

“Committee members are mandated to consult and monitor relevant stakeholders combating fraud, corruption and maladministration, present findings and make recommendations to the Director-General on cases of fraud and corruption, as well as present findings and make recommendations to the Director-General on cases of fraud and corruption.

“Adding to this, Dr Phillips spearheads quarterly meetings to track progress made on individual cases in the department and attends monthly engagements with the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), where the department provides the SIU with progress reports on disciplinary processes,” the department said.

The department said there are several investigations currently underway, which include gross dishonesty, fraud, improper expenditure (irregular, fruitless wasteful and unauthorised), as well as dereliction of duties and improper use of State property.

To ensure that investigations are carried out and concluded successfully, the department said it has introduced a standard template of all misconduct cases, where the monitoring and coordination of misconduct cases are now centralised.

“This means that all cases that have been investigated are placed on a central database. These include that of the department’s Internal Audit Unit, Risk Management Register, Human Resources Database, Public Service Commission and the SIU’s databases.

“This is done to ensure that all cases that require attention are monitored centrally, and the department has an accurate picture of the status of the cases. In an event where there are blockages or challenges, these can be attended to through the Consequence Management Committee,” the department explained.

The department warned that as the new year has set in, it will continue with its efforts to root out fraud and corruption, implement consequent management and “will not hesitate to take harsh action against any official who transgresses good government ethics and principles”.

“This was evident when a Deputy Director-General was dismissed late last year after being found guilty in an investigation relating to irregularities on the Systems Applications Products (SAP) contract with the department,” the department said.

Source: South African Government News Agency