Measures need to be taken urgently to fight corruption and protect our fundamental rights.

Paul Hoffman, a director of Ifaisa, has called for the creation of an independent Anticorruption Commission (ACC) to eradicate corruption.

The article appeared for the first time in Business Day today – An overarching commission is needed to tackle corruption and is an important contribution to the current debate. View or download the full article by clicking on the link or go to Business Day itself.

Business Day has kindly allowed me to post extracts on the website simply to indicate the nature of the article, which needs to be read in its entirety.

“The things that went wrong with the Scorpions should be treated as a learning experience and steps should be taken to prevent any repetition of the excesses indulged in when elements within the Scorpions became feral, acting beyond their mandate, especially in the field of information peddling and generally failing to uphold the rule of law and the constitution.

It is possible to reconcile and appropriately accommodate elements of the various approaches that are in circulation, provided some variation of the ideal solution is the one adopted by Parliament.

Long-suffering South Africans deserve nothing less than the best possible anticorruption entity. Without it, a failed state, corroded by the scourge of corruption, is our bleak future”.

“THE Constitutional Court has spoken: its order is plain and clear. The Hawks, as anti-corruption fighters, are unconstitutional to the extent that their enabling legislation fails to secure an adequate degree of independence for them. The government has to remedy the defect in the law and Parliament has been given until September by the court to do so”.

“The ruling means that unless the anti corruption machinery of the state is independent, it is ineffective in the fight against political and high-level corruption because of the possibility of political interference. The Hawks have demonstrated their lack of independence time and again”.

“The National Planning Commission has, not surprisingly, identified corruption as a primary public enemy. It proposes the fight against corruption be fought across a broad front by many agencies, concluding with the warning that ‘numerous anti corruption agencies and laws and forums also present their own problems due to overlapping mandates and a lack of strategic co-ordination of investigating bodies’.”

“The Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac), the originator of the Red Card campaign against corruption, takes a view different from those of the government and the planning commission”.

“What does independence really mean in the context in which it is used in the court order? The majority of the Constitutional Court referred approvingly to the definition of independence given by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Key elements are protection from undue political interference, structural and operational autonomy along with a clear legal basis and mandate for a special body, department or unit”.

“The Institute for Accountability in Southern Africa (Ifaisa) suggests the creation of a new chapter nine institution called “the Anticorruption Commission” (ACC), as an independent body to tackle corruption is the safest means of ensuring the body needed can function “without fear, favour or prejudice”, or independently, in a manner safeguarded by the constitution itself. Mere legislation is too easily changed or scrapped, as SA learnt to its cost in the sad saga of the dissolution of the Scorpions. The ACC should be headed by a retired judge called the ACC commissioner. There should be a deputy commissioner in each province and appointments should be made on the recommendation of an independent body which, unlike the Judicial Service Commission, is not dominated by politicians. Operatives in the ACC should be ultimately accountable to the commissioner, who in turn should report to Parliament annually or more frequently should the need arise”.

“The ACC should look to Parliament for its funding, not to the executive. Perhaps the budget of the ACC should be expressed as a percentage of gross domestic product or tax revenue so that the temptation to strangle it financially is removed”.