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What is the role of Ethics in Local Government?

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Both in South Africa and in the world at large, there has come to light a disturbingly large number of corrupt behaviours by government officials, public administrators and local authorities over the years. This is certainly one of the primary reasons strong ethics are paramount when it comes to overseeing the activities of local government. However, to truly understand and even analyse this statement, it’s important to have a full grasp on the concept of local governance.

What is the role of local government?

There are many basic services that need to be delivered to the citizens and residents of a country. In South Africa, local municipalities and local ward councillors are the closest to their communities and oversee these activities within their towns or districts. Under the constitution, these bodies need to be sensitive to community views and responsive to local issues. This ensures that local governments can effectively serve the people and provide solutions to those aspects of their community that challenge better infrastructures and a decent quality of life.

How do ethics come into the equation?

Ethics is a very complex area of study but it truly is what forms the backbone of any public administration scenario. It’s essentially the framework that governs what one ought to do to make the world either a better or worse place for the people who live in it. When a local municipality is strongly influenced and directed by conscientious and ethical policies, the community will benefit and have a far better quality of life than those without.

How does a conscientious public servant decide what’s ethical?

It can be quite tricky sorting through competing considerations when it comes to determining what the “right thing to do” is. However, putting one’s values into practice and thinking in terms of community values is always made easier by studying a respected local government programme. The many ethical frameworks that different politicians and governments have used over time can provide great insight into what may be best in today’s current political climate. After all, this is unique to the needs of each specific community.

Interested in building a career in the local government sector? Would you like to elevate your managerial skills and your knowledge about ethical governance? Then certainly consider our Higher Certificate in Local Government and Development Management. Speak to one of our friendly, knowledgeable student advisors today!

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