Civil servants must develop a culture which will help pave the way for the emergence of not only a dedicated, efficient and ethical civil service but also one which places emphasis on management integrity. To achieve this objective, it is necessary to have a work culture that incorporates honesty, trust, discipline, responsibility and transparency.
Corruption is pervasive, affecting almost every aspect of life. Where the public interact with the authorities, bribery can manifest itself in so many forms, from the person who wants his business application to be processed speedily to others who want to expedite their application for low-cost housing. Officers involved in corrupt practices are mostly those in charge of law enforcement. To eradicate such practices, all law enforcement agencies should have an internal control system which can detect irregularities.
The information age is providing citizens and non-governmental organisations with powerful tools and information to combat local corruption. Likewise, the global economy puts tremendous pressure on local governments to rid themselves of factors that reduce their competitiveness. The movement towards decentralization, accountability and transparency at the local government level is gathering momentum. In this context, the enormous costs of corruption are being explicitly recognised, as is the urgent need to correct governmental malfeasance. Corruption is an entrenched symptom of misgovernance often reflected in patronage, ineffective revenue-generating agencies, large-scale bribery in procurement and failure to deliver services to the masses. But when local officials in charge of public resources are accountable to their citizens, decision-making can become participatory.
In turn, a participatory process can be the cornerstone of a national strategy to reform “sick” institutions and improve the welfare of city dwellers. The challenge facing local governments is to develop innovative ways of building effective, accountable and transparent systems. Local councils implementing and sustaining accountable and transparent systems, as well as good governance reform programmes benefiting the masses can expect to attract financial and human resources and become showcases of exemplary practices to be emulated nationwide.
In line with the creation of transparent local authorities, steps must be taken to instil moral and ethical values among the staff. This is essential as honesty, sincerity and discipline are important elements every civil servant must possess when discharging his or her duties to the public.
In the final analysis, preventing corruption helps to improve service delivery, stimulate public confidence and participation and win public support.