Lifestyle audits are slow and selective

In Summary

• Public officers and politicians are already supposed to make wealth declarations which are sent to the EACC

• Analysis of submitted declarations of wealth will be faster and more effective than lifestyle audits.

The Senate in session.
The Senate in session.
Image: FILE

Legal mechanisms already exist to crack down on personal enrichment.

Public officers and politicians are supposed to make bi-annual wealth declarations that are forwarded to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission for review.

Nevertheless the Senate has prepared fresh legislation to initiate lifestyle audits into conspicuous consumption among politicians (see P8).

The Lifestyle Audit Bill now awaits the endorsement of the National Assembly and signature by the President.

What's the point? The EACC already should have declarations of wealth and it is a criminal offence for public officers to misrepresent or hide their wealth.

In any case, the concept of lifestyle audit is fundamentally flawed. Some individuals throw money around when they are in debt and others dress shabbily when they are very well-off. Appearances aren't everything.

Furthermore, lifestyle audits will be extremely laborious and will only be able to target a few individuals.

It would be much better to ensure that public officers and politicians are compelled to duly make their wealth declarations and those should then be analysed for discrepancies and sudden jumps. That would be less time-consuming and would cast a much wider net than selective lifestyle audits.

Quote of the day: "We are not fighting against people, we are fighting against a system."

Oliver Tambo
The South African politician was born on October 27, 1917