Public Service Commission - News

Break the silence - Blow the whistle on corruption

[ SIDE QUOTE: the Act will encourage people to carry out their civic responsibilities and report corruption encountered at the workplace. ]

In an attempt to curb corruption in the public service, the PSC introduced a whistle blowing initiative in 1998. Since its inception, the whistle blowing initiative has been effective in the sense that a number of corruption cases in different government departments have been reported. Last year, parliament passed the Protected Disclosures Act (Act 26 of 2000).

Protected Disclosures Act

The purpose of the Act is to make provision for the procedures in terms of which employees in both the private and the public sector may disclose information regarding unlawful or irregular conduct by their employers or other employees; to provide for the protection of employees who make a disclosure which is protected in terms of this Act; and to provide for matters connected therewith.

The Act thus provides procedures in terms of which any employee may disclose information relating to an offence or a malpractice in the workplace by his or her employer or fellow employees. It also provides for the protection of an employee who makes a disclosure in accordance with the procedures provided for by the Act against any reprisals as a result of such a disclosure. According to the PSC Director of Ethics, Roderick Davids, the Act will encourage people to carry out their civic responsibilities and report corruption encountered at the workplace.


The Institute for Security Studies and the Department of Justice are compiling a booklet on disclosure guidelines, which will be distributed to all Senior Managers by early September 2001. Workshops will be organized throughout the Country to coach Senior Managers on the guidelines. The Commission will collaborate with the Department of Justice in this exercise.

Future whistle blowing plans

According to Davids, the PSC envisages the appointment in every government department of an ethics officer who will be trained in interviewing, verification and referral skills. The officer will be someone conversant with the Protected Disclosure Act, passionate about clean governance and Anti-Corruption, and a person of integrity. "However," he stresses, " we will consult fully with unions and employers before we kick-start the process."

Asked about the challenges facing the initiative, Davids says that his Directorate would like to turn around the exercise from its negative connotation of regarding a person who has zero tolerance for corruption as a "sell-out -impimpi", to a more positive process that implants a culture which will recognizes reporting corruption as one's civic responsibility in the interests of clean governance and democracy. The Directorate would also like to develop a report back mechanism, so that those who report corruption can be kept informed of developments in the cases they report.

Article compiled by Humphrey Ramafoko



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