26. November 2013

Statement by Ambassador Xolisa Mfundiso Mabhongo, Permanent Representative of South Africa in Vienna, Austria, 26 November 2013, Panama City, Panama

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Madame President,

I take this opportunity to add my delegation’s congratulations on your election as President of the 5th Session of the Conference of States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption. We are confident that you will guide the Conference to a successful outcome and please be assured of South Africa’s support.

I also take this opportunity to extend our heartfelt condolences to the people of the Philippines for the devastation brought recently by the Typhoon, Haiyan.

We associate ourselves with the statements made by the Ambassador of Morocco, on behalf of the Group 77 and China and by the Ambassador of Kenya on behalf of the African Group.

Madame President,

South Africa has adopted the vision of building a society that has zero tolerance for corruption and this is encapsulated in our National Development Plan 2030. Through this vision we undertake to nurture leaders in government, private sector and civil society who conduct themselves with integrity and are held to high ethical standards. The fight against corruption ranks among the top priorities of the South African government. This is due to the negative impact that corruption has on society. Corruption is detrimental to the growth of the economy, job creation and to any country’s socio-economic development.  Corruption diverts important resources from development.  It can also be an enabler of other forms of organized crime.

We believe that regional and international cooperation is vital in the fight against corruption.  South Africa therefore signed the UN Convention Against Corruption when it was open for signature in Mexico on December 2003.  In 10 years we have witnessed the important role of UNCAC in fostering concrete cooperation amongst State Parties.  In this regard we also wish to welcome those States that have joined the Convention since the last meeting of State Parties. 

Madame President,

Since the last session of this Conference South Africa has continued to make progress in strengthening domestic measures to address the scourge of corruption.

Amongst others, our Cabinet approved the submission of the Public Administration Management Bill 2013 to Parliament. The Bill is the framework that seeks to provide for the promotion of basic values and principles enshrined in the Constitution. The Bill seeks to regulate the prohibition of employees to conduct business with the state. It provides for ethics and integrity measures which include the establishment of a Public Administration Ethics, Integrity and Disciplinary Technical Assistance Unit. The Bill is applicable to public servants in all spheres of government.

We have also noted the implementation of the commitments we made in Doha in 2009, where this Conference adopted the Implementation Review Mechanism. The progress achieved is notable through the number of country reviews that have been conducted so far. The review of South Africa in 2012 afforded my country an opportunity to reflect on the application of our domestic legislation and the effectiveness of our institutional frameworks.  We are considering the recommendations that emanated from this review.

It is clear that as States Parties we can still do more to strengthen the review mechanism.  We could consider, amongst others, measures to ensure follow-up on the recommendations on the reviews already conducted.  

My delegation commends the work that has been done by the UNODC through the Review Mechanism in identifying the technical assistance needs of countries. We also appreciate the technical assistance activities carried out by UNODC in assisting States Parties with the implementation of the UNCAC. We wish to underscore, however, that in order to ensure that the UNODC provides efficient technical assistance, sustainable funding would be required. In this regard, we support the call for funding of the Mechanism through the UN regular budget, to which all State Parties are contributing.

We are therefore confident that State Parties will deliberate and find solutions to those aspects of the review mechanism that need to be strengthened, while recognizing that the mechanism is still in its infancy.  In this regard we also note the ongoing discussions on realistic and practical ways of the participation of civil society in the mechanism.

Madame President,

South Africa appreciates the work done by the Secretariat on gathering information and best practices from Member States in the area of prevention of corruption. We believe that Chapter 2 of the Convention remains very critical for the strengthening of preventive measures for all State Parties.

Asset Recovery is a powerful tool to ensure that we remove the profiting from corruption. It is a central part of our strategy to combat corruption, and in the past 5 years we have frozen assets of corruption of over R1.2 billion (or US$120m), and forfeited assets of over R120 million (or US$12m)

South Africa has worked closely with the UNODC, StAR and other international bodies to assist other African states to do asset recovery more effectively, especially through an intensive 4 week training program for prosecutors working on asset recovery.

I thank you.

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