President Cyril Ramaphosa says work on lifestyle audits for Ministers will only be finalised after Chief Justice Raymond Zondo releases the final report of the commission of inquiry into state capture.
Ramaphosa revealed this in a written parliamentary reply to a question by Democratic Alliance (DA) leader John Steenhuisen.
Steenhuisen had asked, “With reference to his undertaking in his reply to the debate on the State of the Nation Address on 20 February 2018 to conduct lifestyle audits on the members of his Cabinet, which has been repeated on various occasions thereafter, (a) what are the reasons he has failed to date to conduct the lifestyle audits, (b) by what date is it envisaged that the lifestyle audits will (i) commence and (ii) be completed and (c) what are the details of the (i) method and (ii) contents of the lifestyle audits?
In his reply, Ramaphosa admitted that the introduction of lifestyle audits for members of the Executive has taken “far longer than originally anticipated.”
“While we have begun with lifestyle audits for senior public servants, it is important that we extend this practice to members of the Executive,” he added.
“Much work has been done on the approach and methodology to lifestyle audits of members of the Executive. However, the finalisation of this work is being held in abeyance pending the submission of the final report of the commission of inquiry into state capture.
“This is so that any additional measures required to strengthen Executive accountability and conduct can be considered holistically.”
Lifestyle audits for public servants
Although Ramaphosa’s promise of lifestyle audits for Ministers remains unfulfilled for now, the government started implementing audits for public servants on 1 April 2022. Former Public Service and Administration Minister Ayanda Dlodlo made the announcement during the Lifestyle Audit Indaba held in Gauteng held in Gauteng recently.
“Lifestyle audits will not only probe unexplained wealth, but they will also detect conflicts of interests that have an impact on the productivity of public service employees and on service delivery,” she explained in her keynote address.
“Thus, although lifestyle audits are a mechanism or tool to address corruption, in its essence, it is aimed at restoring ethics to be at the centre of the public service.”
In March, Business Day reported that Ministers had been asked to hand over their passports as the “first step” towards their lifestyle audits. However, there was no official confirmation of this.
The audits are part of Ramaphosa’s stated objective of building a capable and developmental state.