ODAC is pleased to note that Cynthia Stimpel, SAA’s group treasurer, who blew the whistle on financial irregularities at SAA, will be allowed to challenge her disciplinary hearing before an impartial arbitrator at the CCMA.
The experience of Stimpel in trying to blow the whistle replicates the difficulties experienced by many South African whistleblowers; she spent many months attempting to raise her concerns internally, with no resolution, before she was able to find external support. It was only through a systemised programme from the Organisation for Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) that her disclosure became protected in practice.
Effective whistleblowing mechanisms are a key part of good governance. A healthy open culture is one where people are encouraged to speak out, confident that they can do so without adverse repercussions, confident that they will be listened to, and confident that appropriate action will be taken. For this reason ODAC has drafted a Code of Good Practice on Whistleblowing which in the form of questions and answers sets out the principles and practices of effective whistleblowing. This Code will assist employees to raise concerns safely and responsibly and assist employers to provide effective whistleblowing mechanisms. Clear and simple systems are a key step to providing an enabling environment in which whistleblowers can flourish, informed and protected.
Hopefully in the near future employees like Stimpel will have access to simple whistleblowing procedures and mechanisms provided for by their employers. It is vital for an open and accountable society that acts of accountability such as her disclosure are lauded, and see resolution, rather than be met with the contempt she originally experienced.