n Journal of Public Administration - The critical need for ethical leadership to curb corruption and promote good governance in the South African public sector

Volume 47, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0036-0767



Corruption is now recognised as one of the South African (SA) government's greatest challenges in the public sector. The Public Service Commission (PSC) has stated that the five most common manifestations of the corruption which is on the increase in the SA public sector are fraud and bribery, mismanagement of government funds, abuse of government resources, identity document fraud and procurement irregularities. It is a major hindrance to good governance, with a disproportionate impact on poor communities and is corrosive of the very fabric of our society. The government has prompted public sector departments to focus on anti-corruption measures as part of their mechanisms to prevent and curb corruption. Some departments are looking to these controls, while the majority of departments have not. However, it is evident that these mechanisms are insufficient to prevent and curb corruption, due to poor governance practices, such as institutional weakness and gaps in legislation. Furthermore, the public sector has seen that there are unethical and even toxic leaders, who exploit the loopholes in the systems and processes and seek to fulfil their personal desires at the expense of their departments. It is therefore argued that there is increasingly a need for ethical leadership and more efforts must be undertaken to promote good governance in the public sector. This article therefore suggests the need for ethical leadership to prevent and curb corruption and to promote good governance in the SA public sector. Ethical leadership is positively and significantly associated with leader effectiveness and hence good governance. Leaders need to demonstrate ethical leadership in their daily behaviours, decisions and actions. By sending out strong messages about ethics and establishing clear reward and sanction systems to hold the employees accountable for their actions, leaders can do a lot to promote good governance in the public sector. Ethical leadership can help curb and prevent corruption and thus promote good governance.

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