||Gift-giving and the acceptance of gifts in the South African public sector
is a controversial issue. The bestowal of a gift may generate a negative
public perception of corrupt behaviour. Gift-giving and the framework
that governs it varies from country to country, together with what can
be regarded as acceptable. There is a delicate balance between what is
interpreted as a mere gift or donation, or whether the objective of the
bestowal is to seek a benefit, create a relationship or to generate an
understanding of quid pro quo, or sense of beholdenment, which will
benefit the giver privately. This is deemed a bribe, irrespective of what
it is called. As corruption is rife in the South African public sector the
abuse of public power for private gain is a problematic issue that needs
special attention. The current existing legislative framework in South
Africa is fragmented and does not provide public servants with clear,
comprehensive or adequate guidance relative to the acceptance of gifts.
The multiple ambiguities in legislative instruments make it unfeasible and
impossible for an auditor or enforcement agency to establish links between gifts and corrupt practices; the overlaps create loopholes, of which corrupt
officials take advantage. It is therefore deemed imperative that the existing
South African legislative instruments, which currently govern and manage
the acceptance of gifts, be assessed and evaluated, in an endeavour to
establish best practices in supervising gift-giving to public officials. It is
crucial for South Africa to fight corruption, and an essential element of this
is the necessity of strengthening the controls which prevent and identify corrupt activities in the Public Service. Through comparisons drawn it is
apparent that the legislative framework regarding the acceptance of gifts
should be reviewed, and possibly consolidated into one guideline or
code, then implemented nationally in the Government sector. This would
result in clarification, with a single, consistent and universal set of rules
across the government sector, with which public servants must comply.
A possible solution has been proposed, whereby if an unsolicited gift is
received it is shared or distributed between all employees; if everyone
benefits equally, it may lessen the perception that the gift was intended to
influence the action of a single employee.
||Jones, V & Bezuidenhout, H 2014, 'Best practices to regulate gifts in the South African public sector', Administratio Publica, vol. 22, no. 2, pp. 68-92.