Celebrating 20 years of Batho Pele
DPSA Deputy Minister Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba unpacks what it means to be an ideal public servant
An ideal public servant is someone who is proud to serve; happy, motivated, energetic, forward-thinking, ethical and professional, says the Deputy Minister of the Department of Public Service and
Administration Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba.
This year marks 20 years of the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) implementing the principles of Batho Pele; an anniversary that takes place during Public Service Month in September.
The theme for the month is 'Together Moving the Public Service Forward: We Belong, We Care, and We Serve', in keeping with the principles outlined in the Batho Pele policy. “The rationale for the same theme as 2016 is that the 2017 celebrations take into account the reflection on the 20th anniversary of our Batho Pele policy launched in 1997,” says DPSA Deputy Minister Dipuo LetsatsiDuba.
September highlights government services, celebrating the commitment, dedication and, excellence of public servants who go the extra mile in the delivery of public services.
Programmes identified for this year include providing a mechanism to assess the quality of service delivery with a view of investigating whether Batho Pele principles are being applied and not being compromised in the administration of service delivery. One such programme is Project Khaedu, for senior and middle managers, which aims to survey the effectiveness of Batho Pele.
The department will also facilitate an integrated strategic platform to review service delivery imperatives
and challenges in order to enhance the quality and efficiency of the work done by the public sector.
The DPSA will share some highlights and celebrate individuals who excel in their day-to-day work. “Those who are committed deserve to be celebrated and honoured. Being in the public service is a calling,” says Deputy Minister Letsatsi-Duba.
The delivery of goods and services from the state should be seen as a partnership, says Deputy Minister Letsatsi-Duba, who called on the public to support and respect the work of public servants. “As a country, we need to forge partnerships so that the community and public servants work together.” Any service is a two-way process, with both parties cooperating, so “everybody has a role”, says the Deputy Minister.
There are many factors that contribute to perfection to the public service, she adds. An important factor is that public servants understand their role in order to improve the service. Another is understanding the mandate of the present government.
Public servants need to be aware of the impact that they have, they need to look at the benefits they provide for customers both internal and external – it's how the Batho Pele principles link together.
The ideal public servant, the Deputy Minister suggests, is someone who is proud to serve, happy, motivated, energetic, forward-thinking, ethical and professional. “To have the ideal public servant will take time because we come from a painful past,” she adds.
Improving service delivery
The National School of Government (NSG) “aims to build the capacity of the state to improve service delivery in communities”. It was set up to provide and facilitate training and education in the public service.
Building capable leaders is a
“Being in the public service is
focus area of the NSG and this is done through various courses aimed at enhancing leadership capabilities in the public service.
One need not be in a high ranking position in order to be called a leader, says the Deputy Minister: “Leadership potential exists amongst the most junior positions found within the public service.”
A key NSG programme, Breaking Barriers to Entry into Public Service (BB2E), aims to capacitate unemployed graduates. It is an orientation programme aimed at improving the knowledge and skills of unemployed graduates and newly-appointed departmental interns with a national diploma or degree.
“The five-day programme orientates participants to the public service: how the public service is organised and the way the public service functions. Underpinning the programme are the basic values and principles governing public administration found in Chapter 10 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.”
Another leadership programme is the Executive Induction Programme (EIP), for salary levels 15−16.This programme was piloted in March 2016, with the inaugural EIP taking place in March 2017.The EIP is directed to capacitating newly-appointed Directors-General and Heads of Department from both national and provincial spheres.
“The goal of EIP is not only to familiarise participants with their specific work environments, but also to inspire participants to build a public service which responds effectively and as a collective. It is about building a capable and committed public service cadre with the necessary knowledge, skills, values and attitudes to perform tasks effectively.”
An efficient, effective public service
Deputy Minister Letsatsi-Duba also adds that her department is required to implement and coordinate interventions aimed at achieving an efficient, effective and developmentoriented public service.
With that in mind, the DPSA has developed extensive policies and legislation to guide performance practices. This legislative framework compels national and provincial departments to implement strategies to professionalise the public service, and so improve service delivery.
“However, many departments fail to implement these frameworks. As a result, the public service continues to face substantial challenges around recruiting competent senior managers and developing them to be able to carry out the mandate of government effectively.”
The National Development Plan asserts that an improved human resource capacity is critical for the effective implementation of service delivery. “Human resource professionals need to be equipped to enforce rules and implement administrative processes, but also to advise senior management on all aspects of strategic human resource management and development.”
“My message to public servants is that problems we come across are for all of us to solve,” says the Deputy Minister. She adds that running a state is complex, so “finding a solution would be to do more research on how government departments are structured”.
Finding innovative new ways of providing better service, cutting costs, improving conditions, streamlining and generally making changes ties in with the spirit of Batho Pele. Good leadership is a critical ingredient for a successful organisation. Organisations who do well in serving their customers can demonstrate that they have leaders who lead by example, who set the vision, and ensure that the strategy for achieving the vision is owned by all and properly deployed throughout the organisation. They take an active role in the organisation's success.
“Let us be proud of our work,” she adds. “We are here to serve with honour, dignity and pride. Serving is an honour.”