eish! asked Annamarie de Kock, risk and compliance coordinator from Corporate and Information Governance Services, to tell us why we have to declare conflict of interest, what it means and what it is that we should declare. She also tells us more about the policy and rules on conflict of interest and on declarations of interest and of gifts.
Q: When does conflict of interest take place?
A: Conflict of interest occurs when staff members:
Staff members should not hesitate to declare their interests, as the policy makes it clear that a declaration of interest does not automatically mean a conflict of interest exists. A conflict exists when a person can influence a situation to derive personal benefit.
Q: Why do we have to declare any conflict of interests every year?
A: It is prescribed by law to prevent corruption, loss for your employer or financial gain for yourself by favouring yourself, business entities or persons related to you. There are two Acts prescribing this, plus the NWU policy itself.
The first act is the Higher Education Act. This act stipulates that you have to declare in writing any conflict or potential conflict of interest on appointment, as well as any new interest you obtain afterwards and before procuring goods and services.
Secondly, the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act, 12 of 2004 states that it is an offence for any public officer to acquire or hold a private interest in any contract, agreement or investment connected to the public body in which he or she is employed.
The NWU policy augments and supports these laws. The policy states that you have to declare, in writing, all interests when you are appointed and afterwards annually on the online DIY system.
You also have to disclose any interests to your line manager and the next line manager as part of your performance management process. In addition, you must inform the relevant management structures – for instance committees you serve on – about any instances of conflict of interest.
By disclosing all your interests, you are protecting yourself by making sure you are not engaging in any transactions that might expose you to criminal offences.
Q: What are the most important things to declare?
A: You should make a FULL declaration of all business, commercial or financial activities you undertake for gain – whether you think it might raise a conflict of interest with the university or not. That is for the university to decide.
A conflict of commitment must also be declared if it causes you to spend less time and energy on the work you and the university agreed on in your performance agreement.
You should also declare any enrichment of yourself (as an NWU employee) by favouring related business entities, family members or related persons at the university’s expense.
Q: Where can we find the policy?
A: The policy can be found on the policy page of the NWU web.
Annamarie de Kock, risk and compliance coordinator from Corporate and Information Governance Services, says staff members must declare ALL activities they undertake for gain, even if they are not sure whether it is a conflict of interest. It is for the university to decide if there is a conflict or not.
Do your personal
INTERESTS CONFLICT WITH THE NWU’S INTERESTS?
Have you wondered why we have to declare any conflict of interest every year?