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