There can be no debate as to whether the South African public service is corrupt or not. This has been openly stated by leaders in government and the trade union movement.
There are clear ways out of this situation:
- The assumption and support for a shared vision and values as inter alia expressed in our constitution.
- Leadership commitment and examples are crucial as these set the culture in which others act. The reality is that ethics are driven from above and therefore succeeds or fails with those in leadership positions.
- Codes of conduct are already formulated and signed. The problem lies in the enforcement of the codes with appropriate sanctions where people dishonour the expected behaviour. This may include legal action that is swift and sends a clear message that codes are not just words on paper.
- Performance evaluation should include living of values and be linked to appropriate forms of development and reward.
- On a longer term, the institutions of moral formation should be strengthened: a strong family life; functional schools with teachers as moral examples; religious communities that reinforce commitment to truth and honesty; and workplaces that embody good values.
To turn corruption around is an inter-generational task: If we do all of the above at the same time, we might see changes over the next decade or two. There is no quick fix.