The article identifies conceptual issues and relationships between ethics,
accountability and corruption, and touches on their social and developmental
dimensions. It explores the roots of corruption in municipalities and their
relationship to social science paradigms. The argument is supported by examples of
corruption in municipalities in different parts of South Africa. These reported cases
of corruption are used as an empirical basis to identify several types of corruption
noted in anti-corruption literature.
The article shows that corruption may occur more readily where there is systemic
and organisational encouragement for someone to become corrupt. A lack of ethics
and accountability amongst the leaders often lead to loose, poorly organised, weak
or inefficient organisational systems and structures as well as supply chain and
A holistic approach in addressing corruption and fraud is recommended. This
involves solving the political/administrative conundrum evident in many municipalities.
The effort needs to be spearheaded by the adoption of collective leadership, and
must be accompanied by strong political will. The approach can be supplemented
by the introduction of internal control mechanisms and solid financial management
initiatives rooted in a Fraud and Corruption Detection and Response Plan.