SPEECHES: Input by the Honourable Lindiwe Sisulu, Minister for Public Service and Administration: Africa Public Service Day celebration 2012

Date: 22 Jun 2012

"Capacity Development for the Implementation of the African Charter on Values and Principles of Public Service and Administration towards building Capable Developmental States"

Friday 22 June 2012
Cape town

Programme Director/ModeratorMrKgotlaBantsi

MEC DrMeyer, deputizing for the Honorable Premier for the W Cape

Honorable A Williams, representing Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee,Ms Joyce Moloi-Moropa

MrAlderman DemetriQually,deputizing for Her Worship, Mayor De Lille

Chairperson the Public Service Commission,Mr Ben Mthembu

Distinguished Guests

Senior Managers and All Public Servants presents

Civil Society Representatives

Delegates to the APSD Celebration

All Protocol observed

Ladies and Gentlemen it is opportune, and indeed an honour, for me today, to join all public servants both in South Africa and across the African Diaspora, on this our beautiful and vibrant continent, in commemorating and participating in this very special day, Africa Public Service Day. We owe it to ourselves as Africans, to recognize our commonalities of historical sketches, by reminding ourselves where we are coming from and where we are going to, in our noble endeavours to build this, our continent of the future, the continent of our dreams and prosperity. This historic platform is now an entrenched strategic event on the African Union calendar, which emanates from the declaration of the first Pan African Conference of Minister's of Public/Civil Service held in Tangier, Morocco in 1994. It is during this Conference that the Ministers agreed that,June 23rd of every year henceforth, should be celebrated as Africa Public Service Day.

It was agreed upon that the thematic focus areasof Africa Public Service Day,must be to aim at:

  1. discovering innovations in governance in the public sector;
  2. reward excellence in the public sector;
  3. motivate public servants to further promote innovation;
  4. enhance professionalism in the public service;
  5. raise the image of public services;
  6. enhance trust in government;
  7. collect, document and share of best practices for possible replication within each country, as well as across the African continent.

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I remind You that; The 2012 celebrations of the Africa Public Service Day and other related service delivery and outreach programmes, are significant, in that, they coincide with 15 years of mainstreaming and institutionalizing Batho Pele within the South African Public Service. The White Paper on Transforming Public Service Delivery: Batho Pelewas launched in October 1997, which was aimed at providing the public service with a fresh and focused approach to improve service delivery, whilst putting pressure on systems, procedures, attitudes and behaviour within the public service to have a radical shift in orientation.

Therefore, the theme for the 2012 Africa Public Service Day, that was adopted during the Special Bureau of Ministers' meeting held on 23-24 February 2012 in Bujumbura, Burundi, is most relevant and befitting at this time of our democracydue to the 15 year Batho Pele celebrations.

The theme which will be the major focus of this roundtable here today is, "Capacity Development for the implementation of the African Charter on Values and Principles of Public Service and Administration towards Building Capable Developmental States".

This2012 Africa Public Service Day platform will as such, provide us with an opportunity as public servants and participants to reflect and ask ourselves critical questions around the journey travelled in the implementation of BathoPele, and what are the capacity development realities that we still need to confront, whilst going forward in our efforts to BathoPelerise the public serviceand thereby instill the Values of Good Governance in Public Service and Administration, as enshrine in the African Public Service Charter which is the central focus of today's discussions.

But let me pause for a while as we honestly reflect on whether we have achieved what we had set out to do way back, 15 years ago at the dawn of our Public Service Democracy and Transformation ?

In so doing, it is important to remind ourselves and take into account the originsof the8Batho PelePrinciples, which are enshrined in Chapter 10 of the SA Constitution, providing the following recognizable values and principles,which dictate the following course of action:

  1. Public services should be provided impartially, fairly, equitably and without bias
  2. Resources should be utilised efficiently, economically and effectively;
  3. Public services must be responsive to citizens' needs;
  4. Public must be encouraged, empowered and provided with opportunities to participate in the development of public service policies; and
  5. That the public service must be accountable, transparent and oriented towards development.

Have we come far enough in translation of these values? Let us ask ourselves - have we done enough?

This simply put,Ladies and Gentleman, translates to the following expectations from us a PUBLIC SERVANTS:

  • A high standard of professional ethics,
  • Efficient, economic and effective use of resources,
  • Transparency and Integrity,
  • Good governance
  • Ensuring non-sexism, non-racism and inclusivity, and
  • Maximizing human potential through development opportunities.

I therefore challenge you present today, and all our Public Servants out there, to introspect and by a symbolic show of your right hand wherever you are today, indicate to your fellow citizens just how many of youtoday(which is 15 years later), still hold true to these Constitutional principles ?[PAUSE ]………………

These values have been operationalised into the following 8 Batho Pele Principles:

  1. Consultation with Service Recipients
  2. Setting Service Standards
  3. Providing Access to Services
  4. Courtesyto Citizen
  5. Providing Information for citizens to transact their lives
  6. Openness and Transparency as to why we cannot provide services just yet
  7. Redress through providing pro-poor services to vulnerable citizens
  8. Value for Moneyby providing predictable and durable basic services according to citizens ability to pay for them

Taking stock of the state of the public service,as well as, the recommendations from numerous reports from the Public Services Commission, over the years, we definitely have successfully branded the Batho Pele principles;we have even been credited on the African Continent and internationally for such an innovative campaign, but back in our departments, the jury is still out as to whether we have successfully institutionalized in the hearts, minds and souls of all public servants, especially frontline service counters in offices and hospitals, the practical " HOW" part of "Putting our People First" (Sotho- Batho Pele).

As a critical reflection of ourselves today, we honestly know that within most Public Service departments throughout the country, we may only have recognized the Batho Pele brand, but not understood the original thrust and strategies used to practicalise and turn the slogan into an organizational culture and public service way of life, befitting the values that our forefathers, Oliver Tambo, Walter Sisulu and Nelson Mandela so dearly epitomized and cherished. We also fondly remember here today, what late Minister Roy Padayachie stood for and espoused in his endeavour to change the way in which the public service machinery worked.

Ladies and Gentleman, KeNako- Now is the Time for us to take stock and go back to the drawing board and retrofit by aligning what we know with what still needs to be done!

It is critical to note that, the African Charter for Values and Principles of Public Service which forms the major focus of the 2012 Africa Public Service Day, is agroundbreaking initiative of the African Conference of Ministers of Public/Civil Service and it seeks to address socio-economic, political and other development challenges facing the continent., including our SA Public Service. The African Charter was ratified at the Sixteenth Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on the 31st January 2011. This was preceded by a declaration which was adopted at the AU meeting in Uganda which declared a decade of values and principles for the African continent.

Although formalised at the 3rd Pan-African Conference of Ministers of Public Service in Windhoek, Namibia, in 2001, the genesis of the Charter stretches as far back as 1998, when the Second Pan African Conference of Ministers of Civil Service, which met in Morocco, made a declaration that set the process towards an African public service charter as a reform initiative.

We need to note the touch-points of the African Charter as a continental values Framework for Public Servants:

In a nutshell, the African Charter under discussion today, is the main instrument for transforming the continent into capable developmental states. It is underpinned by the need to promote the values and principles of democracy, good governance and human right in the carrying out the mandate of the Public Service and Administration across the African continent. The adoption of the Charter by the AU is therefore a reaffirmation of Africa's collective desire to strive tirelessly for the modernisation, improvement and entrenchment of new values of governance in public service, and guided by the common desire of AU Member States to strengthen and consolidate public services in order to promote integration and sustainable development on the continent.

It is important to appraise ourselves with the main elements of the charter which are in line with the social vision of capable developmental states as espoused in our National Planning Commission 2030 outlook for South Africa and the continent at large which include;

  1. Commitment to citizen centered public services;
  2. Commitment to efficient and quality service delivery which values the participation of citizens; respect for human rights and legality;
  3. Access to quality public service;
  4. Access to information; modernization of public service; promoting of meritocracy; utilization of technology;
  5. Behaviour and rules of conduct of public servants; guarantees and rights of public servants; professionalism, ethics and integrity; prevention and combating of corruption; freedom of expression and association;
  6. Management of Conflict of interest; declaration of interests; management and development of human resources; and mechanism for implementation.

Ladies and Gentlemen, as you would recognise and appreciate that; There are persistent and consistent challenges facing the South African public service and the continent at large, and therefore there is aneed to focus on capacity and leadership capabilities as the key requisite for successful implementation of the Charter in order to achieve the desired impact of quality public service delivery to all. One of the recurring issues within the public service is the capacity challenges to lead and sustain desired changes since the understanding is the support for the required competencies, skills and in some instances organisational and structural changes to effect sustainable implementation of service delivery reform initiatives. The successful implementation places major emphasis on high level ownership, commitment and accountability to the implementation, monitoring and feedback.


The challenge I am placing before you today, is for this Africa Public Service Day platform to respond frankly and openly to the following pertinent/key questions in ascertaining our capability to deliver on the demands of the charter and locally related instruments and policies like Batho Pele:

  1. What are the capacity requirements for the implementation of the Charter and what is it that we have as the public service and what arethe sustainability measures needed to be put in place?
  2. Is information readily available on the nature and quality of existing capacities, and where are they located and the utilization thereof?
  3. Is the public service maximizing existing capacities for growth and economic development, and if not, why not?
  4. What kind of innovative mechanisms can be utilized to pool and build upon existing capacities at the national, sub-regional and continental levels?
  5. Do we really know the public service's real capacity challenges and how should these be addressed in a comprehensive and integrated manner towards sustainable development and service delivery to all?
  6. Do we have the correct architecture of the public service to drive the much needed transformation of the culture of public servants and the manner in which services are delivered?

In reflecting on these questions, we need to introspect as it is important to note that, capacity building efforts will succeed only where they take adequate account of the prevailing local institutional arrangements which are country owned and country driven.

Let the symbolism of this annual celebration for public servants be our beacon of hope in our endeavour to continue improving public services, as this Charter ladies and gentlemen is our own African homegrown and should be able to take into account its integration with ongoing initiatives within each country and the continent at large.

In effect, Mister Moderator, this forum today together with the esteemed panel present must deeply contemplate how we respond to the following overarching question: "If all that we say we need to enshrinein the Charter is done, will we have achieved public quality services on the African continent?"

I thank you.

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