The Public Service Commission (PSC) will introduce lifestyle audits for government workers from February 2022.
In a presentation on Tuesday (7 December), the group said that the audits would draw from a variety of databases that would provide management and investigators with a snapshot into certain aspects of the life of an employee.
“Sometimes, the only clue to illicit activities is a sudden unexplained change in an employee’s lifestyle. The lifestyle audit is, therefore, a critical management tool to identify staff members who, based on extravagant lifestyles, may potentially be engaging in illicit activities,” it said.
“This understanding of a lifestyle audit is consistent with the description as contained in the Economics Dictionary, which points out that it is an investigation to ascertain whether a person’s living standards is consistent with his/her reported income.”
If South Africa is to avoid becoming a failed state, public servants are responsible for ensuring that they live within their reported incomes, the PSC said.
Lifestyle audits will also help strengthen the already existing financial disclosure framework that helps determine conflict of interest.
The group provided an example of a lifestyle audit as follows:
- A public servant earns a net salary of R45,000 a month;
- They own five properties with a combined market value of R7.5 million. The total mortgage bond payment is R90,000 per month;
- This public servant owns a boat with a monthly payment of R8,000. They also own three luxury vehicles, all with a combined monthly payment of R25,000;
- The overall monthly payment for a mortgage bond, boat and motor vehicles is R123,000 per month;
- In terms of this example, the official’s living standards and spending patterns are inconsistent with their reported income stream.
“In this regard, it needs to be noted that most public servants are honest and people of integrity. Some public servants could have acquired their wealth through honest means, e.g., inheritance, a wealthy partner, and as a successful business person,” the PSC said.
“The PSC will be the first to undertake lifestyle audits of all its commissioners and employees to lead by example.”