Pub­lic ser­vants mov­ing SA for­ward

Vuk'uzenzele - - From Tyhoeuutnhiofnocbuusildings -

in the col­umn I wrote for the last edi­tion of I fo­cused on the theme of Septem­ber as the Her­itage Month on our cal­en­dar. I sug­gested in the col­umn that it is im­por­tant not only to live the in­junc­tion made in the pre­am­ble of the Con­sti­tu­tion of the Republic, that we should be united in our di­ver­sity but also that most im­por­tantly, the di­ver­sity of our her­itage and cul­tures is ac­tu­ally the source of our strength as a peo­ple. Our abil­ity over the past two decades of democ­racy to har­ness our di­ver­sity for col­lec­tive pros­per­ity is not a small achieve­ment, es­pe­cially in the world in which, in­creas­ingly, hu­man di­ver­sity is used as a wedge to di­vide peo­ple in­stead of unit­ing them.

Our gov­ern­ment uses the month of Septem­ber to fo­cus on an­other equally im­por­tant theme: im­prov­ing the qual­ity and per­for­mance of the pub­lic ser­vice. The fun­da­men­tal val­ues and tasks of the pub­lic ser­vice are set out in Chap­ter 10 of the Con­sti­tu­tion. The Con­sti­tu­tion also out­lines nine prin­ci­ples ac­cord­ing to which the pub­lic ser­vice has to op­er­ate. It en­joins the pub­lic ser­vice to be trans­par­ent, ac­count­able, eth­i­cal and devel­op­ment-ori­ented. The pub­lic ser­vice should pro­vide ser­vices in an ef­fi­cient, cost-ef­fec­tive man­ner and en­sure the eco­nomic use of re­sources.

Since the dawn of democ­racy in 1994 we have set up in­sti­tu­tions, laws and rules to put these prin­ci­ples and in­junc­tions into prac­tice. We es­tab­lished state agen­cies such as the Depart­ment of Pub­lic Ser­vice and Ad­min­is­tra­tion, Pub­lic Ser­vice Com­mis­sion and the of­fice that sup­ports it, the Na­tional School of Gov­ern­ment, the Depart­ment of Co­op­er­a­tive Gov­er­nance, and since 2009 the Depart­ment of Per­for­mance Mon­i­tor­ing and Eval­u­a­tion (DPME), now known as the Depart­ment of Plan­ning, Mon­i­tor­ing and Eval­u­a­tion. Our de­ci­sion to es­tab­lish DPME was in­formed by our ex­pe­ri­ence which showed that where the per­for­mance of gov­ern­ment was weak, it was be­cause of wrong poli­cies. The fun­da­men­tal source of problems was poor im­ple­men­ta­tion. Our fo­cus since 2009 has been on im­prov­ing the im­ple­men­ta­tion of gov­ern­ment poli­cies and pro­grammes. The role of DPME there­fore is to mon­i­tor the im­ple­men­ta­tion and, where there are gaps, iden­tify them and ad­vise the whole of gov­ern­ment to act on them.

We plan to use Pub­lic Ser­vice Month 2017 to em­pha­sise, once again, the im­por­tance of the ethos of pub­lic ser­vice, to re­mind civil ser­vants and all those who have cho­sen the vo­ca­tion of pub­lic ser­vice that they are em­ployed first and fore­most to serve the pub­lic. This year’s Pub­lic Ser­vice Month is par­tic­u­larly sig­nif­i­cant. We cel­e­brate the cen­te­nary of the icon of our lib­er­a­tion strug­gle, Oliver Regi­nald Tambo, who ded­i­cated his whole adult life to a po­lit­i­cal cause which was big­ger than him­self: the lib­er­a­tion of all our peo­ple from the bondage of apartheid. OR Tambo believed strongly in our con­sti­tu­tional creed, which is that South Africa be­longs to all who live in it, black and white. He led with hu­mil­ity and in­tegrity. As we cel­e­brate his life this year, I im­plore ev­ery pub­lic ser­vant to em­u­late his ex­am­ple by ded­i­cat­ing them­selves to the val­ues of pub­lic ser­vice as en­shrined in Chap­ter 10 of the Con­sti­tu­tion.

This year is also sig­nif­i­cant for an­other rea­son. It is the fifth an­niver­sary of the Na­tional Devel­op­ment Plan (NDP): Vi­sion 2030. The NDP sets out spe­cific tar­gets on im­por­tant devel­op­men­tal ar­eas of our coun­try that should be met by the year 2030. It is a clear road map that should be fol­lowed by all of gov­ern­ment, business, labour and so­ci­ety in bring­ing about a South Africa where there will be work for the job­less, food for the hun­gry and se­cu­rity for the vul­ner­a­ble. The NDP has been sup­ported by all ma­jor stake­hold­ers.

The fifth an­niver­sary of the NDP presents all of us the op­por­tu­nity to as­sess the progress we have made in im­ple­ment­ing it. We have or­gan­ised its im­ple­men­ta­tion into five-year pro­gram­matic terms called the Medium Term Strate­gic Frame­work (MTSF). We should look at the tar­gets we set in the MTSF and as­sess whether we have met them. The im­por­tance of this fifth an­niver­sary for all pub­lic ser­vants is for them to look at the role each of them is play­ing to re­alise the ob­jec­tives set in the NDP.

Let’s use the Pub­lic Ser­vice Month 2017 to reded­i­cate our­selves to the val­ues of pub­lic ser­vice and to put these val­ues to prac­tice through the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the NDP. Our peo­ple de­serve noth­ing less than pub­lic ser­vants who work to bring about a South Africa in which, to bor­row words from an­other icon of our lib­er­a­tion strug­gle, for­mer Pres­i­dent Nel­son Man­dela, there would be work, bread, wa­ter and salt for all.

I have no doubt that there is noth­ing that would please OR Tambo on his 100th an­niver­sary more than a South Africa in which there is an army of ded­i­cated pub­lic ser­vants who are work­ing tire­lessly to bring Madiba’s vi­sion into be­ing!

"The pub­lic ser­vice should pro­vide ser­vices in an ef­fi­cient, cost-ef­fec­tive man­ner and

en­sure the eco­nomic use of re­sources."

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