Corruption is a cancer that must be stopped
Systemic fraud and corruption poses a “catastrophic risk” to good governance and sound financial management in South Africa.
And, many among those tasked with rooting out malfeasance are themselves corrupt. So says the Acting Accountant-General, Zanele Mxunyelwa, who was speaking this morning at the annual Public Sector Forum held at Emperors Palace in Johannesburg.
The two-day conference is hosted by the Institute of Internal Auditors SA (IIASA) and brings together over 250 internal auditors and audit committee members working in the public sector. The theme for this year’s event is “Poised for the Future”.
A host of internal audit executives, academics, political analysts, senior civil servants from various government departments as well as executives from state-owned entities such as Telkom feature on the programme.
Mxunyelwa said fraud and corruption were the biggest impediments to the future of the profession as well as the country. Future technologies and scarce resources also posed challenges.
“Systemic corruption attacks at the level of governance of an organisation or country. It attacks the principles of good governance. We cannot count on the members of organised crime to clean themselves. When it emerges,it destroys the mandate and the very purpose of the existence of an organisation.”
But she expressed hope for the future saying South African leaders, particularly in the civil service, served a limited time in office and this ensured new leadership.
Earlier, Vice Chancellor of the University of the Free State, Professor Jonathan Jansen, gave a rousing talk on leadership and integrity. He said South Africa had “lost sight of its ethical code”. He urged organisations to change their ethical culture. “But you cannot change an organisation until you change yourself,” he said.
Today, February 5, IIASA CEO, Dr. Claudelle von Eck, will talk on “Building Ethical intelligence and Ethical Courage” while political analyst, Justice Malala, will speak about the “Age of Turbulence”.
Von Eck, meanwhile, said the forum served as a perfect barometer of the current state of affairs within the profession.
“It is always healthy to look within ourselves, particularly in light of the myriad of revelations that have emerged in recent times. It also provides a forum to explore the future of internal audit and how future technologies such as cloud computing and data analytics are poised to unlock the full potential of internal audit,” she said,
Other topics to be discussed at the forum include innovative leadership within a bureaucracy, auditing culture and ethics, the role of the public sector in growing the economy, a panel discussion on lifestyle audits being a “necessary evil” as well as its “pros and cons”.
Von Eck said the range of topics and discussions would better inform members as to the very real impact the sector has on curtailing unemployment, improving service delivery, ensuring fiscal discipline as well as promoting ethical leadership and closing the gap between rich and poor.