Ethics and accountability in South African municipalities : the struggle against corruption

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 16
  • Abstract:

    The article identifies conceptual issues and relationships between ethics, accountability and corruption, and touches on their social and developmental dimensions. It explores the roots of corruption in municipalities and their relationship to social science paradigms. The argument is supported by examples of corruption in municipalities in different parts of South Africa. These reported cases of corruption are used as an empirical basis to identify several types of corruption noted in anti-corruption literature. The article shows that corruption may occur more readily where there is systemic and organisational encouragement for someone to become corrupt. A lack of ethics and accountability amongst the leaders often lead to loose, poorly organised, weak or inefficient organisational systems and structures as well as supply chain and procurement weaknesses. A holistic approach in addressing corruption and fraud is recommended. This involves solving the political/administrative conundrum evident in many municipalities. The effort needs to be spearheaded by the adoption of collective leadership, and must be accompanied by strong political will. The approach can be supplemented by the introduction of internal control mechanisms and solid financial management initiatives rooted in a Fraud and Corruption Detection and Response Plan.