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Focus on Africa: South Africa: bullying must end

Can South Africa silence the bullies holding sway in its civil service?

Striking South African public service workers march through the streets of Cape Town, August 26, 2010.
Striking South African public service workers march through the streets of Cape Town, August 26, 2010. Reuters
Text by: William Niba
5 min

South Africa says it will crack down on morale-sapping bullies in the civil service with a new plan to fight the abuse of junior office staff by managers, drafted during a recent round table organised by South Africa's Public Service Commission.


The workshop grouped delegates from national departments, experts from the University of Pretoria and consultants from the International Labour Organization.

BothCape Times and theJohannesburg Star expressed disgust at revelations in the new report that abusing managers are never sanctioned because many see themselves as the law.

Bongani Nkosi has been investigating the growing trend in South Africa’s civil service and authored Thusday's front page story for the Star newspaper.

He told RFI that the Public Service Commission (PSC) decided to review disciplinary measures, after the murder of an official investigating corruption in one of the country’s provinces.

Vertical bullying

Nkosi also claims that the PSC is still to address outstanding cases of sexual abuse involving some senior ministers who had actually been charged but never sanctioned. "It is due to the intimidation of reporting officers and fear of reprisal by powerfully-placed managers", the journalist regretted.

Bongani Nkosi, Journalist Johannesburg Star


The man charged with studying the worsening phenomenon is Mokgolo Manase. He is Deputy Director General of Public Service Commission in charge of Human Resources. He claims that the situation has worsened in the civil service because the bullies are part of the disciplinary structure.


Now officials are trying to raise awareness and encourage whistleblowers and victims of bullying, cyberbullying discrimination, intimidation, and sexual harassment to come forward, without fear of retaliation, explains Manase.

Mokgolo Manase, Deputy Director General Public Service Commission SA

The deputy PSC boss says the department which has already opened a hotline for them will ensure that their identities are protected and that all outstanding disciplinary cases are reported to the watchdog and Parliament.

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