New Development of Public Administration

Date01 December 1999
Publication Date01 December 1999
DOI10.1177/0020852399654007
AuthorDeoram Sing
SubjectArticles
New Development of Public Administration
Developing a public sector ethos in South Africa
Deoram Sing
The election of the post-apartheid Government in April 1994 made it imperative
to start immediately with the transforming of the state as well as political
governance and public administration from an autocratic, authoritative and regu-
latory paradigm to a paradigm based on constitutionalism, human development, a
rights culture, democratic accountability and a professional ethos in the public
sector. The formal development of codes of ethics and codes of conduct is con-
sidered by the South African Government as a significant strategy to transform
the attitudes of parliamentarians, political executives and public servants towards
a more professional democratic ethos. The Constitution of the Republic of South
Africa, 1996 which is the supreme law of the land acknowledges public adminis-
tration as a facet of the national life of South Africans. An entire chapter of the
Constitution is devoted to public administration. It stipulates certain basic values
and principles which must govern public administration. The promotion and
maintenance of a high level of ethical behaviour in public life is one of the
stipulations.
In February 1997 a code of conduct for parliamentarians, which was approved
by the Parliament, came into effect. The main stipulations relate to preventing
parliamentarians from taking any improper profit or advantage from being
elected representatives. A further stipulation is that parliamentarians disclose all
financial interests in a Register of Members’ Interests. An accountability and
control mechanism is also built into the code. A Committee on Members’
Interests is empowered to supervise the Register and report to Parliament and
recommend sanctions for breaches of the code. The fundamental principle under-
lying the code is that public representatives must make decisions solely in the
people’s interest and that the disclosure of private financial interests reinforces
the principle that there is nothing effectively private in the public life of a public
representative. While there is an increase in the number of members making dis-
closures there is concern about inadequate disclosure. Civil society and con-
stituents have also been urged to study the Register and report doubts about the
truthfulness of the contents to the Registrar.
The political executive at the national sphere of government comprises the
International Review of Administrative Sciences [0020–8523(199912)65:4]
Copyright © 1999 IIAS. SAGE Publications (London, Thousand Oaks, CA and New
Delhi), Vol.65 (1999), 597–600; 010610
03_IRAS65/4articles 11/11/99 11:05 am Page 597

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