College of Law and
Management Studies

Local Governance Conference Unpacks the Ethical Dilemma in the Public Sector

Professor Purshottama Reddy of the School of Management, IT and Governance in collaboration with the Democracy Development Programme (DDP) and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) in Durban hosted the ninth local government conference themed: Ethical Leadership in the Public Sector in South Africa.

Reddy said, ‘The theme was opportune, relevant and appropriate. With 25 years of democracy there has been progress made in many quarters; however, there have also been constraints with the singular most important one being ethical leadership in the public sector, which has resulted in the negation of positive gains post 1994. The appointment of the Zondo Committee of Enquiry and the state of SOEs bear ample testimony to that fact; we do not have a good story to tell.

‘We are at crossroads; it can be business as usual, with the resultant effect of a failed state or we can change the narrative and the storyline. Critical to the process is public functionaries who are patriotic and working in the interests of our citizenry and ultimately good governance and sustainability.’

Dignitaries who addressed the conference included: Dr P Kariuki (DDP Executive Director), Professor D Ramjugernath (Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation at UKZN), Mr H Suhr (KAS), Professor N Holtzhausen (University of Pretoria), Dr B Brand (University of Stellenbosch), Mr B Sikhakhane, Professor D Chetty (Durban University of Technology), Dr M Makgae, Professor P Sithole (University of Free State), Professor R Thakathi (University of Fort Hare), Professor E Mantzaris (Mangosuthu University of Technology) and Mr N Ngidi (Special Advisor to the KZN Premier).

In his keynote address, Ngidi stressed that ethics as a compass of our behaviour is critical because it is an assurance that a country does not degenerate to anarchy.

‘Ethical living starts at the top. If institutions want to succeed in their mission of service delivery, this has to start with ethical leaders. Most times, government officials and leaders in general are quick to deny corruption, yet we see it every day.’

‘As important as conferences like this one are, we need to take action against corruption and not just have conversations about it. Talking on its own will not solve the problem. We need a clear programme that addresses ethical leadership,’ he added.

Among the many excellent presentations, the discussion on the Springbok win was a popular one as many saw it as an indication of what is possible and as proof that the country has the capacity to be a winning nation if it practices inclusiveness and adopts a single nationally defined vision – a unified view on rooting out corruption.

Other academics from the School of Management, IT and Governance who participated in the programme were Dr Bongani Qwabe, Professor Thokozani Nzimakwe, Professor J Govender and Dean and Head of School, Professor Stephen Mutula.

Words: Lungile Ngubelanga
Photograph: Supplied