An exploration of whistle blowing in fighting corruption in the public sector in South Africa : A case of Stellenbosch Municipality

Chamunorwa, Joan Chiedza (2015-04)

Thesis (MComm)--Stellenbosch University, 2015.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Corruption in South Africa has become a topical issue, especially in the public sector. Public officials are expected to uphold the public interest, but corrupt officials abuse public office for personal gain. Corruption has many forms and facets and it occurs on both large and petty scales. Despite the scale, corruption has negative consequences, such as the loss of public confidence, the undermining of efficiency in service delivery and the diversion of resources. The reporting of corruption through whistle blowing is important because it alerts the organisation of corrupt activities that have been witnessed. However, even though whistle blowers disclose corrupt activities which are detrimental to the public interest, they often experience retaliation, for example harassment, victimization and threats. Whistle blowers are thus often reluctant to blow the whistle. The South African government has enacted legislation, in particular the Protected Disclosures Act (2000), which protects whistle blowers from retaliation; however, in itself this may not be sufficient to encourage employees to blow the whistle. Organisations therefore need to devise effective whistle blowing mechanisms and create a culture of transparency that encourages employees to blow the whistle In light of the above, this study focuses on employee perceptions of whistle blowing mechanisms within Stellenbosch Municipality as a case study, with the primary objective of ascertaining the importance of whistle blowing in curbing corruption in the public sector. The study also investigates the extent to which employees are well informed on whistle blowing legislation and other mechanisms. Additionally the study focuses on the challenges and the consequences that whistle blowers face when they expose corruption. A literature review was also conducted to explore the conceptualisation of whistle blowing, corruption and anti-corruption strategies. From the literature review, it became evident that there is a need for the effective management and application of whistle blowing mechanisms to effectively curb corruption. The research design used was methodological triangulation; this consisted of a quantitative research method, namely a structured questionnaire, as well as a qualitative research method, namely semi-structured interviews. The different methods were used because they allowed for a more comprehensive approach to the study. Ninety-eight respondents, who are employees of Stellenbosch Municipality, participated in the study by completing the questionnaire. The results of the study indicate that the majority of respondents view the term whistle blowing negatively which might contribute to why individuals are reluctant to blow the whistle. Furthermore, employees agreed unanimously that they lacked confidence in their manager/supervisors to deal with disclosures of corruption. Based on the findings of this study, Stellenbosch Municipality is commended for its efforts in developing a Fraud and Corruption Policy and establishing a Fraud Hotline. However, there should be enhanced protection of whistle blowers at the Municipality in order to encourage employees to blow the whistle on any corruption that they witness in the organisation. The study contributes to anti-corruption research, and in particular whistle blowing mechanisms within the public sector in South Africa.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Korrupsie in Suid-Afrika is 'n aktuele kwessie, veral in die openbare sektor. Van staatsamptenare word verwag om openbare belang te prioritiseer, maar korrupte amptenare misbruik hul staatsamp vir persoonlike gewin. Korrupsie het baie vorme en fasette en kom voor op groot en klein skaal. Ongeag die skaal het korrupsie negatiewe gevolge, soos die verlies van vertroue deur die publiek, die ondermyning van doeltreffendheid in dienslewering en die misbruik van hulpbronne. Die aanmelding van korrupsie deur die fluitjie te blaas is van groot belang omdat dit organisasies inlig oor korrupte aktiwiteite wat opgemerk word. Selfs al word korrupte aktiwiteite, wat nadelig is vir die openbare belang, aangemeld deur fluitjieblasers, ervaar hulle dikwels vergelding deur die beweerde partye, byvoorbeeld teistering, viktimisering en dreigemente. Fluitjieblasers is dus dikwels huiwerig om die fluitjie te blaas. Die Suid-Afrikaanse regering het wetgewing uitgevaardig, veral die Wet op Openbare Bekendmakings (2000), wat fluitjieblasers teen weerwraak beskerm; hierdie wetgewing alleen mag egter nie voldoende wees om werknemers aan te moedig om die fluitjie te blaas nie. Organisasies moet dus effektiewe fluitjieblaas meganismes ontwikkel en 'n kultuur van deursigtigheid skep wat werknemers sou aanmoedig om die fluitjie te blaas. In die lig van bogenoemde, fokus hierdie studie op werknemer persepsies van fluitjie-blaas binne die Stellenbosch Munisipaliteit as 'n gevallestudie, met die oorhoofse doel om die belangrikheid van fluitjie-blaas as meganisme om korrupsie in die openbare sektor te bekamp, vas te stel. Die studie ondersoek ook tot watter mate werknemers ingelig is oor fluitjieblaas wetgewing en ander meganismes. Daarbenewens fokus die studie op die uitdagings en die gevolge wat fluitjieblasers in die gesig staar wanneer hulle korrupsie ontbloot. 'n Literatuurstudie is ook gedoen ten einde die konseptualisering van fluitjie blaas, korrupsie en anti-korrupsie strategieë te verken. Uit die literatuuroorsig, het dit duidelik geword dat daar 'n behoefte is aan doeltreffende bestuur en toepassing van fluitjie blaas meganismes om korrupsie teen te werk. Metodologiese triangulasie is as navorsingontwerp gebruik; dit bestaan uit 'n kwantitatiewe navorsingsmetode, naamlik 'n gestruktureerde vraelys, sowel as 'n kwalitatiewe navorsingsmetode, naamlik semi-gestruktureerde onderhoude. Die verskillende metodes is toegepas aangesien dit lei tot 'n meer omvattende benadering tot die studie. Agt en negentig persone, in diens van Stellenbosch Munisipaliteit, het aan die studie deelgeneem deur die vraelys te voltooi. Die resultate van die studie dui daarop dat die meerderheid van die respondente die term “fluitjie blaas” as negatief beskou, wat kan bydra tot ‘n huiwering deur indiwidue om wel die fluitjie te blaas. Verder dui die resultate eenvormig daarop dat werknemers nie vertroue het in hul bestuurder / toesighouers om die openbaarmaking van korrupsie te hanteer nie. Gebaseer op die bevindinge van hierdie studie, word die Stellenbosch Munisipaliteit geprys vir sy pogings met die ontwikkeling van 'n bedrog en korrupsie beleid en die vestiging van 'n bedrogblitslyn. Beskerming van fluitjieblasers by die Munisipaliteit moet egter verbeter word om sodoende werknemers aan te moedig om die fluitjie te blaas oor enige korrupsie wat opgemerk word in die organisasie. Die studie dra by tot anti-korrupsie navorsing, en in besonders, fluitjie-blaas meganismes binne die openbare sektor in Suid-Afrika.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/96847
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