The illusion of ethics for good local governance in South Africa
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Ethics, the legislation and upholding of good conduct by public officials is a sine qua non for sustenance of good governance and service delivery. The White Paper on the Transformation of the Public Service 1994 identified the need for a code of conduct in South Africa as an essential element to enhance high standards of ethics and professionalism. In 1996, the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa prescribed the values and principles of Public Administration. Subsequently, the Public Service Commission developed a Code of Conduct in 1997. The legitimacy of local government is based on the same principles of ethics and professionalism as that of the national government. It is imperative to implement an ethical framework for social and economic development at the grass-root level. This article examines the theoretical terrain of ethics in public management and posits that, whereas there exist some state-of-the-art legislation that regulate the conduct of public functionaries at the local government sphere, outcomes of ethics in practice are rather unethical and illusive. There is therefore an advocacy for the need to intensify implementation of ethical guidelines for councillors and municipal employees. The fiduciary, management, operational and accountability framework is further upheld through the implementation of a code of conduct for local officials. Theoretically, the framework should be scientifically accountable and practically feasible in implementation. The article recommends the need to strategise measurable implementation plans, conduct the on-going fraud risk assessments and sensitise the community through education and training regarding good governance and the code of ethics. The approach used is descriptive, though analytical.