SPEECHES: Address by the Deputy Minister for Public Service and Administration, Hon. Ayanda Dlodlo, MP on the occasion of 2012 Public Service Month Launch

Date: 10 Sep 2012

Tongaat, Durban

7 September 2012

Programme Director

Premier of the Province of KwaZulu-Natal, Dr Zweli Mkhize

Executive Mayor of eThekwini, Cllr James Nxumalo

MECs and MMCs present

Managers from all spheres of our Government

Esteemed Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

All Protocol observed

Let me start by conveying Minister Lindiwe Sisulu's sincerest apology for not being able to join us today, as she had to attend to another equally important engagement. She has asked me to represent her in this undoubtedly auspicious occasion.

It is indeed a great pleasure to be welcomed to this beautiful and sun-soaking sub-tropical coast of KwaZulu-Natal, caressed, as it is, by the ever-warm anti-cyclonic eddies of the Mozambique Channel.

I take this opportunity to express our heart-felt gratitude to the Premier and the people of KwaZulu-Natal for so graciously agreeing to host this august event.

We are gathered here today because we have a dream, a dream for a rebirth of the machinery of the public service. Hence the theme for this year's Public Service Month has been aptly dubbed: "Strengthening the Ethos of Batho Pele Towards an Efficient, Effective, Development Oriented Public Service and Empowered Citizenry".

We chose to have the launch in this province because this is the birthplace and activist ground-soil of our colleague, the late Honourable Roy Padayachie, whose life was tragically cut short, whilst on duty in Ethiopia in May this year. We wanted to honour his memory in this vibrant community of Tongaat where he was so well-loved and respected for his selflessness, humility and dedication to finding long-lasting solutions to the challenges facing the people of this locality. Through this launch we want to carry on his legacy by embedding in the minds and souls of our public servants what it means to serve our people until our very last breath.

Ladies and gentlemen

The Public Service Month had its embryonic beginnings in the objectives and touch points of the Africa Public Service Day, which has been celebrated on the 23rd of June annually since the declaration of the first Pan-African Conference of Ministers for Public/Civil Service held in Tangier, Morocco, in 1994. This declaration was re-affirmed by the fourth Pan-African Conference of Ministers for Public/Civil Service that was held in Stellenbosch, in the Western Cape, in 2002.

South Africa began celebrating this day officially in 2004 by hosting roundtable discussions. Since 2007, the roundtable discussions evolved into the Public Service Week, celebrated in June and incorporating the annual Africa Public Service Day theme and the week-long deployment of public servants to local service delivery points. It has now evolved further into a fully fledged Public Service Month and in 2010 it was rescheduled to the month of September annually.

September in the Southern Hemisphere is the beginning of the warmer spring season, a season of rebirth. The Public Service Month therefore symbolises rebirth, repurposing and taking stock.

All public servants nationally are required to give back to their immediate communities by celebrating their noble calling and demonstrating to the citizens how they are equal to the task of serving the people. As part of this exercise, public servants are expected to:

  • Roll up their sleeves and spring clean their service delivery points;
  • Visit schools, hospitals, police stations and courts, talk to citizens, mediate the delivery of services and getting things done;
  • Unblock the bottlenecks and red-tape in the delivery of services;
  • Plan ahead for the new year ahead by ordering textbooks on time, enrolling children in schools, checking that hospital supplies are replenished, clearing caseload backlogs in our court system and police offices, delivering ID documents, and processing social grants on time;
  • Ensure the systems and infrastructure are working and use public resources efficiently to the benefit of the citizens; and
  • Recommit themselves to belong, to care and to serve the people.

Ladies and Gentleman

The 2012 Public Service Month was preceded by the 2012 Africa Public Service Day, which was celebrated in the Western Cape on 22 June 2012 under the continentally-endorsed theme: "Capacity Development for the Implementation of the African Charter and Principles of Public Service and Administration Towards Capable Developmental States".

We used this event as an opportunity to highlight the need for renewed commitment to professionalism and ethical conduct which the Batho Pele Principles espouse.

As part of our dream for a rebirth of the public service, we want 2012 to be a turning point in the manner in which have been serving the people. We must DELIVER, DELIVER and DELIVER; as the patience of our people is fast running thin. We need to be more visible and now is the time more than ever. Kena ko!

Mphathi Hlelo

Lo mcimbi esikuwona namuhla kanye nale nyanga esiyineke ekubukisiseni indlela uhulumeni anikela ngayo izidinga-nqala kubantu zisemqoka ngezindlela eziningi.

Firstly; the 2012 Public Service Month coincides with Fifteen (15) year anniversary of institutionalization and instilling of the ethos and principles of Batho Pele within the public service. The White Paper on Transforming Public Service Delivery, which outlined the eight Batho Pele Principles, was promulgated in 1997. The principles are as follows:

  • Consultation of service users, our citizens
  • Setting Service Standards,
  • Increasing sustainable Access,
  • Ensuring Courtesy,
  • Providing access to Information on services,
  • Ensuring Openness and Transparency,
  • Providing Redress
  • Ensuring Value for Money.

Batho Pele is therefore aimed at ensuring that reinforcing the notion that public servants are in the positions they are in merely to serve the people, and that nothing can, and should, be taken away from that.

Secondly, this year's Public Service Month is important as it coincides with another milestone; namely the conclusion of an unparalleled public sector wage agreement early last month. Siyaziqhenya Mphathi Hlelo ngendlela esiziphethe ngayo izingxoxo zamaholo kanye nezimo zokusebenza kwabasebenzi bakahulumeni kulo nyaka. The watershed multi- year agreement with labour will afford us (employer and labour) the opportunity to implement all the outstanding issues from the previous rounds of negotiations. This will indeed be the opportunity to get focused on how best to fast-track the delivery of services to the people who have been so eagerly awaiting the delivery of a better life. The national budgeting process will too experience greater stability, and we will hopefully be able to take the public service to higher productivity.

Thirdly, as earlier noted, we are using the occasion of this launch to pay tribute to one of our fallen beloved service delivery stalwarts, the late Comrade Roy Padayachie. We are humbled and privileged to have had soldiers like Comrade Roy who fought relentlessly against apartheid and, after freedom was attained, continued to serve and ensure that the democratic gains of the people were protected and consolidated. This he did until his life came to an abrupt end, and we all said, with a great deal of conviction, that his race was indeed run.

On behalf of the Ministry for Public Service and Administration, I take this opportunity to thank Mrs Padayachie, her two daughters, Trivana and Vindea, as well as, the extended family for having sacrificed and shared with us Comrade Roy.

In honouring him, the Ministry for Public Service and Administration commits itself to assist in the completion of the Marianhill Youth Entrepreneural Centre, which he initiated as a skills development programme and therefore a vehicle of self-reliance amongst young people in that locality.

Mphathi hlelo nezithunywa ezikhona lapha

As we launch the 2012 Public Service Month today let us take a leaf out of the dedication and perseverance shown by our disciplined athletes who have done South proud in the Olympic and Paralympic events. We are confident that those who will still be competing between today and Sunday (which is the final day of the Paralympics) will do everything possible to make their families and us, with them, and the country at large, proud.

For us in the public service, it is important that we remember that we have no luxury of time. Izinkinga abaphekene nazo abantu bakithi ziningi. The increasing frustration about the general slow pace of service delivery; the poor quality of services delivered and in some instances the tardiness with which government responds to citizens' express demands, are an indication that a business-as-usual approach will not enable government to deliver our people to the promised land of a better life for all.

A different approach is needed if we are to successfully improve the lives of the people. The ever compelling truth is that the pursuit of a national developmental agenda requires, as its premise, human capacity as well as the will to spearhead and sustain development. As the National Planning Commission observes elsewhere, "Evidence from across the world suggests that one of the most important factors in the state's ability to pursue its objectives and to be effective at bringing about societal transformation is the people who work in the public service."

Ladies and gentlemen

The activities that are part of this month- long programme will create platforms and opportunities for government departments across the public service and the different stakeholders to engage in dialogue about the future of our public service, the country and its people. All of us are called upon to embark on sustainable service delivery improvement programmes by challenging the jaded status quo and taking the public service to higher productivity. To this end, the following are key:

  1. Quality access to integrated service delivery and citizen engagement and participation, marked by unannounced visits and deployment to service delivery and frontline areas by Executive Authorities accompanied by Senior and Middle management to assess, monitor and follow-up on service delivery challenges towards better life for all;
  2. Engagement with various stakeholders like business and civil society on service delivery matters to strengthen government's efficiency and effectiveness, thus improving citizens' satisfaction levels.
  3. Recommitment by public servants to professionalism, patriotism and compassion by observing and participating in Batho Pele Fridays for the duration of the September month.
  4. Strengthening the integrated complains-handling system within the public service towards effective implementation of the "redress" principle in particular; and

I am happy to announce that the Public Service Month will culminate in a Public Service Sports and Wellness Day on 29/09/2012. The objective is to boost the morale of public servants. As it is said, "a healthy body supports a healthy outlook and mind". We need to rekindle a lost family - the Public Service Family - and rebuild our collective social responsibility. This will be a national event and, as such, DPSA, in collaboration with the Department of Sports and Recreation, will co-ordinate activities with National Departments, whilst the Provincial activities will be coordinated through the Offices of the Premiers. We would like to see the institutionalization of such events as part of the public service calendar.

Mphathi hlelo, Ndunankulu weSifundazwe, kanye nezithunywa

Njengohulumeni kaZwelonke, ikakhulukazi umnyango wemisebenzi kahulumeni nokuphatha (public service and administration), siyayijabulela indlela ekubonaka sisebenzisana ngayo kulonyaka. We are encouraged by the level of integration and alignment of government programmes and activities for the Public Service Month and this is a positive step towards realizing the desired impact. All National and Provincial departments, working in collaboration with municipalities, have developed detailed programmes in ensuring successful implementation of the Public Service Month.

Through central coordination, the DPSA has ensured effective participation and support, especially of national departments, to the identified provincial deployments to the service delivery sites, engagements with civil society and other partners.

We are also encouraged by the overwhelming response and support to the objectives of the Batho Pele Revitilisation programme. I thus wish to assure you of Minister Sisulu's (and my) support and commitment to steering this ship in the direction that will lead the Public Service becoming an employer of choice where public servants feel a true sense of belonging in that they are valued by the employer; indeed a public service where employees are committed and feel privileged to serve the people.

As part of the support the Minister will be rendering to the Batho Pele Revitalisation Programme, she will be embarking on a consultative process with all the critical stakeholders, including public servants, throughout the country. The consultations will culminate in the conclusion of a Public Service Charter that will be based on professionalism, pride, integrity, ethics and ethos of Batho Pele.

Masengiyiphetha inkulumo yami, Mphathi hlelo, mangisho ukuthi lokukusebenzisana esikubonayo kulo msebenzi walenyaga kumele kuqhubeke. There is a need to sustain the energy, focus, integration and alignment that we are witnessing as part of the Public Service Month beyond September. These must be visible everyday so that the entire public service works in unison to speed up service delivery and thus improve the quality of life of our people. That is the South African dream; a dream for a rebirth of the public service. And so today we are launching the pedestal for the realization of that dream.

This launch, as we have said, coincides with the arrival of the spring season. It is a time when all of us wait in anticipation for the arrival of mild spring showers and the splendor they create; the season of hope and the beautiful rainbow they give birth to; the clean air and the freshness they exude; the waters that begin to glisten and sparkle in our rivers, streams and lakes; the warmth of the sunshine; and the lush vegetation they bring - forests filled with trees, flowers, fruits, and vegetables for everyone to enjoy.

Let that be the new season for our public service as we declare the 2012 Public Service Month open.

I thank you

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