Poll: Should public servants be allowed to have business interests?

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Thread: Should public servants be allowed to have business interest?

  1. #1
    just me duncan drennan's Avatar
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    Should public servants be allowed to have business interest?

    With the Gautrain furore roaring, Barry Sergeant giving out some pretty rough views, and COSATU saying that public servants should not have business interests, I'm wondering what your views are...

    ....in February 2006. Around this time, auditor-general Shauket Fakie stated that South Africa was “in a vicious downward spiral as a result of rampant economic fraud”.

    "The State of the Nation" on MoneyWeb
    So with "rampant economic fraud" should public servants be allowed to have business interests?
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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    I think it's fine for them to have business interests - as an investment. It is when they use influence by virtue of their position in government to unfairly acquire those interests or influence government dealings with their business that the line is crossed.

    Civil servants and politicians should not be seeking commercial gain by virtue of their occupation as civil servants or politicans.

    Hope that makes sense.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    just me duncan drennan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave A View Post
    I think it's fine for them to have business interests - as an investment. It is when they use influence by virtue of their position in government to unfairly acquire those interests or influence government dealings with their business that the line is crossed.

    Civil servants and politicians should not be seeking commercial gain by virtue of their occupation as civil servants or politicians.

    Hope that makes sense.
    It makes sense, there is just always that question of how easy it is to cross over the line. As a public servant you may have an inside line to information that could benefit your business - how easy is it to abuse that power?

    I'm still a bit undecided on this. I don't think it is reasonable to say that they may have absolutely no business interests, but at the same time there is such a large possibility that their position will result in abuse.
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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dsd View Post
    ... there is such a large possibility that their position will result in abuse.
    That's why we need watchdogs and need to choose our leaders wisely.

    I think part of the current problem is a lack of experience. Before 1994 civil servants got to the top after many years of working in the trenches and climbing up through the system. This acted as a training and filtering process so that the leadership had the ethics appropriate to their position in place. Each little step up the ladder was a test passed. Responsibility was increased in increments. And those vulnerable to temptation were filtered out along the way.

    The process of promotion through the ranks has been massively accelerated on priorities other than individual track record.

    Much the same can be said for politicians, although one would hope that the democratic process would help the cream float up to the top.

    Hopefully we're in a "settling out" phase.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    just me duncan drennan's Avatar
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    Did you read the article by Barry Sergeant? I don't think I agree with him, but he paints the other side of the picture (compared to what you are saying). What are your thoughts?
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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    I'm thinking of that milk analogy. Either we're going to weed the trash out, or we'll become the Haitian emulsion. Personally, I'm aiming for the former and doing what I can.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Here's how the SACP feels on the subject.
    One of the biggest threats facing democracy in South Africa is corruption, the South African Communist Party (SACP) said on Wednesday.

    "Apart from HIV/Aids, joblessness and poverty, the single biggest threat facing our democracy is growing corruption in both the public and private sectors," said SACP president Blade Nzimande in the party's new year message.

    "This is a blight to all those honest and hard-working South African citizens whose name is brought into disrepute by the corrupt elements," he said.

    Nzimande said a major challenge for 2007 will be to fight against "parasitic capitalism" where access to public office becomes a "stepping stone" to business ventures and government tenders.

    "The SACP is extremely concerned about the increasing numbers of public representatives who are also involved in business ... Let our people stand up and expose corruption and parasitic capitalism wherever these rear their ugly heads!"
    full story from M&G here
    I'm not sure whether they're claiming that capitalism is the problem, or whether it isn't just the "parasitic" variety they're opposed to.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    Silver Member Candy Bouwer's Avatar
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    As a public servant you may have an inside line to information that could benefit your business - how easy is it to abuse that power?
    From my observation and humble opinion...Some of the public servants and politicians for that matter, have not spent a life time trying to serve the people - it has just fallen in to their laps because of popularity or other. Quite a few having possibly been in the business sector and recognised by other busness persons who obviously would like to exploit them once they have come into some power...How does one break ties with this. Very often this new course in life is used as a stepping stone and in reality the role now being played is not a lifetime commitment...so ofcourse they would need to comtiune to grow there businesses, if not a company then their involvement with business people in general. This must be a very difficult to just cut out all together.
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    Quote

    Is the quote your own Dave? I have learned that people forget...........

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yvonne Symons View Post
    Is the quote your own Dave? I have learned that people forget...........
    Which quote, Yvonne?
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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