n Journal of Public Administration - Ethics, integrity and good governance : the case of South Africa's local sphere of government

Volume 46, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 0036-0767



The Republic of South Africa is a sovereign democratic state founded on human dignity, non-racialism and a multi-party system of democratic government to ensure accountability, responsiveness and openness. Governance is executed through three spheres, namely, national, provincial and local.

Because of its nearness to communities, the local sphere is, in the South African context, seen as the service delivery arm of government in ensuring the provision of services, for example, water, electricity, and sanitation. This sphere is, however, plagued by unethical behaviour, lack of integrity and zero good governance in the execution of its constitutional mandate as evidenced by violent service delivery protests by communities throughout the country, and adverse audit opinions.
The major challenges facing the local sphere of government which nullify or negate ethical conduct, integrity and good governance, are self-enrichment through the tendering processes where there is tender rigging for personal gain, extortion and nepotism, that is, jobs for friends and relatives. These corrupt practices are endemic in the local sphere of government. There seems to be room for using state resources for self-enrichment and acting from shallow self-interests while ignoring the constitutional principles of accountability, effectivity and efficiency in the use of resources. There is an obvious dearth of moral behaviour which can be imbued in municipal officials only when they accept that they are trustees for the public good. Craythorne (2003:260) expresses the view that acceptance of this concept has the consequence that responsibility and answerability cannot be avoided.
Admittedly, there are pieces of legislation, administrative frameworks and codes of conduct in place to halt the tide of unethical conduct and corrupt practices, and to promote integrity and good governance. The question arises as to whether these are adequate. This paper grapples with this question and is premised on the view that these measures are not sufficient and more needs to be done.
The article thus explores additional measures or approaches to ensure that the conduct of employees in the local sphere of government is above reproach, that their actions can withstand public scrutiny, thus enhancing good governance.

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