Mzansi Afrika

From Johannesburg South Africa, a window on the world

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Cooling off

Apparently one of the outcomes to emerge from this week’s National Anti-Corruption Summit is that government could soon enact legislation to enforce a cooling off period for public servants who quit the state sector to go into business. Personally I think that this is a dumb ass idea.

Let’s say they decide to have a cooling off period, I can’t see them making it longer than a year or two. So, what’s to stop someone from handing out a government contract in their department on the condition that pay back comes later - when their cooling off period has expired, they can then go take up their fat cat CEO position in the company.

In my opinion these suggestions are nothing more than a PR exercise, so that government is seen to be doing something, but back at the ranch it’s nothing short of a meaningless gesture.

If government really meant business they should rather think about passing legislation that prevents government officials from working for any company, or subsidiary thereof, that has the slightest profit making relationship with said officials’ department at national, provincial and local level. I suppose you would also have to take into account when contracts were awarded so that this correlates with the time that the official worked in the department and possibly even includes a certain time period after the official has left public office.

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