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Background Screening Essential As South Africa Continues Down Slippery Slope To Corruption

By Hazel Shozi

With widespread reports of South Africa coming out top of the list on The United Nations and Transparency International’s annual Corruption Perception Index, Ina van der Merwe, Director and CEO of Managed Integrity Evaluation (MIE), believes while these reports are currently only aimed at creating media hype, the reality is that if more isn’t done to stop corruption in South Africa, they may soon become a reality.

“Ongoing news stories paint a grim picture of the current state of fraud and corruption in South Africa, which on the surface, seems to be on the increase. With this in mind, now, more than ever, organisations need to start acting responsibly and invest in tools that can provide them with peace of mind.

“Whether organisations want to test the legitimacy of tenders, investigate corrupt links in their procurement chain, or vet potential job candidates, the onus lies with companies to make sure they follow the correct procedures to rid South Africa of corruption.”

According to van der Merwe, conducting comprehensive background screening checks when taking on new staff or entering into new partnerships, is the only foreseeable way to break the cycle of corruption.

“Conducting background screening checks like qualification verifications, criminal record checks and credit screenings gives companies the peace of mind that they are not unknowingly employing dishonest - or even criminal – staff,” adds van der Merwe.

“The fact that the demand for background screening checks increased by 11% in the last five years alone, pays tribute to the aforementioned, making it a good starting point for companies who are serious about getting to the root of the problem.”

For van der Merwe, screening candidates and vetting the procurement process within supply chains of organisations is of particular importance. “With the ongoing media coverage of high-profile individuals having been exposed for being dishonest about their qualifications and experience, it would be irresponsible for organisations not to implement stringent background screening measures.

“Realistically speaking, it is the only way to provide a reasonable level of certainty that the candidates they employ are who they say they are. Apart from the negative reputational and financial implications for organisations, pro-active background screening also helps organisations avoid increased recruitment costs.”

She adds, “Due to rife fraud and corruption in the local procurement space, MIE identified the opportunity to develop multiple software solutions that have the unique capabilities to filter through employee and vendor information.

“Not only does our technology assist client organisations to identify potential conflicts of interest or corrupt relationships within their supply-chain, but it’s also designed to see the bigger picture by identifying associations between vendors and employees in the procurement and recruitment phase. South African businesses at large need to know that they no longer have valid reasons not to conduct the necessary checks.

“Ultimately, with the accurate results we are able to produce through our smart vetting solutions, which includes psychometric assessments and vendor selection tools like Vendor Vault, it is definitely reason enough for organisations to invest in these solutions,” concludes van der Merwe.

“Conducting comprehensive background screening advance companies’ HR and risk and compliance strategies, which in turn will have a direct impact on putting a stop to corruption in the long run. The latter would result in a direct increase in public confidence, shifting perceptions around South Africa being the most corrupt country as currently perceived by the general public and investors alike.”

About Managed Integrity Evaluation (MIE)
Managed Integrity Evaluation (MIE) is the largest and most well-established background screening company in Southern Africa. Background screening - the process of checking the academic, criminal or credit history of an employee pre- or post-employment - has gained popularity in recent years with MIE completing over two million transactions each year since 2012.

With operations in 15 African countries, MIE’s service offering incorporates qualification, criminal, credit, identity, drivers licence and vendor screening.

In highest demand, MIE’s qualification verifications are processed through the National Qualifications Register (NQR®). Owned and operated by MIE, the NQR® has a database of over 3.5 million graduate records and 24 subscribing tertiary institutions.

Conducted using Afiswitch technology, MIE’s criminal checks verify candidates’ fingerprints against the South African Police Service (SAPS) Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) in order to determine their criminal background status. A solution to combat procurement fraud, MIE developed ZoomOut™, a software application which filters through employee and vendor information.

This technology identifies potential conflicts of interest or corrupt relationships within a client organisation’s supply-chain. Taking the rights of candidates into consideration, relating to the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI), MIE only conducts background verifications on consenting candidates.

It is also important to note that MIE is a registered Credit Bureau and complies with the regulations set out in the National Credit Act. An internationally acclaimed entity, MIE provides background screening services to over 4000 clients within the human resources, recruitment and procurement sectors.

By: akoaso,HH Germany