Corruption has a devastating effect on poor people - especially corruption in the public service. Corruption costs the government millions every year, money that could have been spent on delivering services. Corruption also means that some people get an unfair advantage because they can afford to bribe officials to do them special favours. Where resources are scarce and many people need those resources, corruption can often set in.
Here are a few definitions and examples of different forms of corruption:
- Bribery: Taking money to give people preferential treatment. Example: officials accepting bribes to move people up on the housing waiting list.
- Embezzlement: Stealing money or resources that are supposed to be under your control. Example: using public money to buy personal goods like a car/airline ticket.
- Fraud: Making false claims for benefits. Example: applying for false social grants and pocketing the money.
- Extortion: When a public official forces someone to give them benefits in exchange for acting/ not acting in a particular way. Example: police officers taking money from criminals to lose their case evidence.
- Abuse of power: Using one’s power or position of authority to improperly benefit or discriminate against another person. Example: a teacher asks for sexual favours in return for passing a student.
- Abuse of privileged information: Using information you have access to because of your job to benefit someone who can make money from it. Example: you know government wants some vacant land for a new housing development and you tell a friend to buy the land so that they can sell it at a huge profit.
- Favouritism: Unfairly providing services or resources to friends. Example: a head of department makes sure that all her friends in the department go overseas with her on official trips.
- Nepotism: Giving jobs or services unfairly to family members. Example: giving a contract for training to a company owned by your spouse without going through the proper procurement procedures.
Anti-corruption strategyGovernment has developed an Anti-Corruption Strategy that tries to deal with corruption in a holistic way. This includes, amongst others:
- Stronger rules and procedures to stop nepotism, favouritism and the awarding of contracts to people who do not deserve it.
- A toll-free anti-corruption hotline (0800 ......) where incidents of corruption can be reported anonymously
- Financial audits
- Investigating units like the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) to root out corruption in the pubic sector
- Laws and processes to protect people who report others (‘whistle-blowers’)
- Training for all public servants on code of conduct, ethics and corruption
- Prosecution of all offenders and blacklisting of people who have been found guilty
Ethics can be defined as the moral values of human conduct and the rules that govern the way we should behave. Each profession has its own ethics that define the correct way of behaving. For example the fact that doctors should always respect confidentiality is part of medical ethics.
We have dealt with corruption and the ethics involved, but there are many other kinds of ethical behaviour that apply to all workplaces – for example not sexually harassing a colleague and not being rude or abusive to colleagues. Since ethics are about moral behaviour they cover the whole range of our actions at work. .
Managers have a key role to play in prevention, detection, investigation and the resolution of fraud and corruption. The final responsibility and accountability for fraud and corruption can never be delegated, but line managers can make use of expert advice and help from others such as internal auditors and legal advisers. Managers are also the role models for ethical behaviour and have to deal firmly with unethical behaviours among their staff.
- Establish and maintain an ethical culture in their management units
- Assess the risk of fraud and corruption in their area of work
- Put in place policies, strategies, processes and procedures to prevent possible fraud and corruption
- Put the necessary controls in place to ensure compliance with these policies, strategies, processes and procedures