Organisational transformation and the morale of the police : a comparative study between Potchefstroom and Mafikeng
Makaudi, Gaotsiwe Samson
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In today's volatile business environment, the need for gauging employee reaction to organisation change is acute. This is especially true in the changing South African context. The South African Police Service (SAPS) has experienced rapid organisation change, including the nature and style of policing, the cultures, structures, management styles and policies and the practises, amalgamation and affirmative action. In order to transform the SAPS into a professional, efficient and representative service, the management of SAPS need to be in touch with the employees' reaction to these changes. The purpose of this study is to determine the impact of organisational transformation on the morale of SAPS members and to identify contributory factors and direct causes that impact on morale. Literature on the topic of morale leaves the impression that it is an all-inclusive (holistic) concept and the synergistic result of various processes and practises in the work environment. Also central to the question of low morale is the fact that poor police are already feeling their powers curtailed by the new version of section 49 of the Criminal Procedure Act which deals with the right of the police to use lethal force. The Act amounts to a stipulation that police may only use their fire-arms when they are threatened. The law refers to the use of force "which may result in serious injury or death". In police language, this can only mean the use of firearms. The police feel betrayed by this because in a practical situation, it means the crucial seconds the police use to decide whether the situation calls for "use of force" could mean the difference between life and death. Further that due to the nature of their work, police officials are regularly exposed to extreme danger. And, if the high levels of violent crime in South Africa, the high level of illegal firearms in circulation, the increase on brutality by criminals and the general lack of respect for law and order are taken into consideration, it is small wonder that police officials are, it seems, specifically targeted. It is also explained that transformation is not a once off process but a long-term one to achieve the best results or outcomes through fundamentally different ways of approaching issues and problems. From the current literature it seems that there is at least one commonality among the diverse group of transformation guru's and it is that transformation and change are not the same thing. Transformation should be regarded as the precursor to change; where change is the physical mode of turning things around, and transformation the preparation of the mind set to enable and to facilitate change. The distinction between change and transformation is that change is a function of altering what you are doing, that is, to improve something that is already possible in your reality. Transformation on the other hand is a function of altering the way you are being, that is to create something that is currently not possible in your reality. In the empirical part of this study, information gathered by means of interviews indicated that: • Members were positive around concepts of equal opportunities; • Affirmative action was blamed for feeling of frustration and low levels of motivation; • Negativity against quotas; • Feeling unsafe at the workplace and at home; • There was a common understanding on the definition of morale and elements/signs of low morale; • Uncertainty about career opportunities; • Disillusionment, grounded in continuing discriminatory practises which is fuelled by the relative deprivation of unmet expectations of improvement engendered by a new, non-racial government especially in the Mafikeng area; and • Racism. Based on the findings of this study, practical suggestions are developed aimed at the enhancement of the morale of members for effective and efficient service delivery.