A sombre atmosphere is currently engulfing the country's entire public service following the untimely death of the Honorable Minister for the Public Service and Administration, Mr Radhakrishna (Roy) Lutchmana Padayachie, who passed away while on National duty in Ethiopia on 04 May 2012, has taken us by shock.
It is times like these when words are not enough to express the extreme shock, sadness and devastation that have befallen us. Mr Padayachie's death has not only robbed us at the DPSA of a strong and visionary leader but has dealt the entire public service a blow.
I first came across the name of Mr Padayachie in the early nineties when we were doing some work in support of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the education sector. At the time, Mr Padayachie was among the leading figures of the South African Congress for Early Childhood Development. As young professionals working for the Joint Education Trust(JET) at the time, we were all encouraged to insist that all NGOs which needed funding to offer training for ECD practitioners should, as a minimum, have their programmes accredited by Mr Padayachie's ECD Congress. Such accreditation was highly regarded in the sector. Of course, given the nature of our society at the time, it did seem somewhat odd that a male person would be so passionate about and heavily involved in ECD, a sector which was dominated by women. However, history will attest to the fact that it is this pioneering work which helped strengthen and professionalize the sector, and which created a sound basis for the national policy frameworks we now have in government.
From the time he joined the Public Service and Administration portfolio, first as deputy Minister and later as Minister, Mr Padayachie demonstrated a hands-on approach, providing much needed strategic inputs across all areas: Community Development Workers, Labour Relations, Information Communication Technology, the Single Public Service process, the Ministerial Handbook, Training and Development, Public Service Innovation, and the African Peer Review Mechanism, among others. Our time with him as Minister for the Public Service and Administration was unfortunately very short-lived, lasting only for a few months. We have, however, during this period been privileged to experience his humility, wisdom and deep commitment to creating a better world. His death while on national duty in another country underscores a life dedicated to uplifting the lives of his people, and should be emulated by all public servants. The Minister died representing not only the interests of South Africa but the aspirations of the entire African Continent at the African Peer Review Mechanism.
We at the DPSA can only take a leaf out of the late Minister's book and pick up from where he left in the fulfillment of his vision of a better governed, a better South Africa and ever improving public service. We will honour him the best way we can, which is to pick up the spear he has handed over to us in this relay race and to escalate the effort to build and sustain an efficient and effective public service.