Governments worldwide have pursued privatisation and corporatisation agendas as a way to divest themselves of the financial responsibilities and administrative burdens that managing public sector organisations entail. Due to these organisations’ perceptions of the requirement to maintain their traditional risk averse behaviours in the management of the public funds involved, many government organisations require their employees to observe the traditional bureaucratic methodologies with which their administrations have always been run. The intent is to maintain legislative accountability and public transparency. As a result many organisations maintain their tall and rigid hierarchical structures. In the face of this many public sector workers at this level adopt the risk averse culture they perceive their employing organisations possess, leading them to virtually abdicate their responsibilities for ownership of their job outcomes through the perception that the responsibility that comes with greater authority higher in the organisation will cover them. This breeds a culture of learned helplessness.
This purpose of this article is to explore impediments to effective whistleblowing as a strategy for promoting anti-corruption practices within the South African public sector. Corruption, which violates the public service code of conduct; deters foreign investment, increases the cost of public service delivery, undermines the fight against poverty and unnecessarily burdens the criminal justice system. The article addresses the question on whether legislation on whistleblowing is adequate to encourage whistleblowing in the public sector.A review of literature determines that the effective implementation of whistleblowing legislation is largely dependent on addressing the challenges identified in the article. The quantitaive research method was employed in the study to ascertain the views of employees in the public sector on whistleblowing. Empirical findings confirm the hypothesis that the protection of whistleblowers through legislation is inadequate to encourage whistleblowing. The article provides a conceptual framework for the effective achievement of the intended outcomes of whistleblowing in the public sector.