n Journal of Public Administration - The nuts and bolts of ethics, accountability and professionalism in the public sector : an ethical leadership perspective

Special issue 1
  • ISSN : 0036-0767



The moral and ethical crises in South Africa have reached such proportions that social pressure and pressure from government and semi-government institutions have to re-consider where they stand regarding ethics, ethical behaviour, accountability and professionalism. There is an urgent need to stop the culture of corruption, lack of accountability and unprofessional conduct that have gathered momentum in the public sector. In practice this means that the ethical and accountable repair task that the public sector needs, must begin with as many individuals as possible making their consciences heard through every available forum. Therefore, to instill an ethical culture in the public sector it is important that there will be a real paradigm shift from a neutral stance on ethical issues to a situation where ethical behaviour at all levels is practiced by management and staff and become a way of life. The reality is that over decades there had developed a lack of ethical leadership to instill ethics, professionalism and accountability in the public sector. The lack of enforcement of legislation and mechanisms to punish unethical conduct, maladministration and corruption also need urgent attention. In this paper the legislative frameworks, conduct, ethical theories, acts of unethical conduct and mechanisms to safeguard acceptable ethics, professionalism and accountability as well as the need for ethical leadership will be examined.

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