Does HR within the public sector have an ethics problem?


News reports this year point to a weakness in the hiring policies of public sector organisations. 

News reports alleging corruption within the HR departments of various public sector entities beg the question whether there is an ethics problem within public sector HR as opposed to the private sector. Earlier this year, for instance, a recruitment administration clerk within the SAPS Giyani Cluster was allegedly arrested for demanding a R10 000 bribe from an applicant in order to process an application. 

Meanwhile, the South African Municipal Workers Union has accused the City of Cape Town of flouting its own human resources policies after the City dismissed a report that found a member for Safety and Security guilty of irregularly appointing as director for Law Enforcement, traffic and co-ordination.

In fact, the Cape Town city council is still engaged in a fresh fight over a “jobs for pals” scandal where allegations of “nepotism and abuse of power” have been leaked to the media and irate workers and opposition political parties are pressing the DA-led council to take action against implicated officials.

In Johannesburg, there were allegations that the head of the City of Johannesburg's anti-corruption unit accepted iPhones, VIP tickets and Louis Vuitton bags in a jobs-for-pals scandal. The allegations surfaced as a senior member of the corruption unit was facing suspension for allegedly soliciting bribes from a lawyer in exchange for giving her a job in one of the city's entities. Last year, the public education sector was rocked by a similar jobs for pals at the SA Council for Educators. 

While this could be a reflection of the media's access to more whistleblowers in the public sector, it sure raises a question whether there is an ethics problem that HR deals with more in the public sector than in privately run organisations.


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