Johannesburg - Lax and corrupt public officials should stop blaming apartheid for their misdeeds, a senior government official reportedly has said in Umrabulo, the ANC's journal.
The report, by the Sunday Independent, quoted deputy home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba as saying: "Apartheid cannot be blamed every time some among them fail to discharge their responsibilities or get involved in corruption".
Gigaba, who is also a member of the ANC's national executive committee, said laxity in executing public service duty constituted corruption, but this could not be blamed on apartheid.
"Most of the public servants employed in government today are not from the apartheid era, but were engaged during the democratic dispensation," he said.
Apartheid was inherently corrupt because it "was founded upon a corrupt value system that supported, spawned and was itself, in turn, sustained by corruption".
"Sure, the legacy of apartheid could be blamed, but for how long!" he said.
Gigaba also rejected the argument that poverty caused corruption. "Even where they participate in corrupt activities, the poor are often the victims rather than the propellers of corruption."
"Corruption is after all a conscious abuse of power for personal enrichment by those who have such power," he said.
"The largest incidents of corruption in the public service occur among the senior management services among those that earn satisfactory salaries; where large accounts and budgets are controlled, and decisions taken," Gigaba said.
"It is at this level that huge tenders and contracts are issued and where kickbacks are often demanded for contracts and offered."
Gigaba called for a new type of public servant who could manage the conflict between private and public interest. Public servants' private business projects should not interfere with their duties as public officials.
"We need to prevent and punish what is morally wrong and to encourage and reward all that is morally right," he said.
"There is a need for the establishment of a professional meritocratic public service that is able to uphold the values and principles of democracy, good governance, and Ubuntu; whilst sharing the ideology of development."
Gigaba's words come amidst a series of service delivery protests, the latest in Siyathemba township in Balfour in Mpumalanga since the beginning of February.