SPEECHES

Speech by Ayanda Dlodlo, Deputy Minister for Public Service and Administration on the occassion of the MPSA Budget Vote, 22 may 2013, old assembly chamber

Date: 22 May 2013

House Chairperson

Chairperson and Honourable Members of the Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration;

Minister for the Public Service and Administration, Minister Lindiwe Sisulu;

Members of Parliament and Cabinet colleagues here present;

Ladies and gentlemen;

Thank you Honourable Chairperson for affording us yet another opportunity to present to this Honourable House the 2013/2014 budget for the Ministry for Public Service and Administration.

In just less than a year our people will once again have an opportunity to cast their vote in the national general elections. This vote lies at the centre of our participatory democracy, which was won through the blood, sweat and tears of the millions of our people, with the people's liberation movement, the ANC, being in the forefront of the struggle, but of course assisted by the fraternal forces from across the African continent and beyond. The fact that we will be holding the fifth national election since the advent of democracy is consistent with, and conforms to, the ANC's commitment to universal suffrage as part of entrenching democracy and a culture of human rights in the land of Makana, Zondo, Tambo, Sisulu, Mbeki, Ngoyi, Slovo and many other stalwarts of our liberation.

It is my hope that South Africans do notice the progress the ANC-led government has made in consolidating democracy and giving a voice to those that did not have it 19 years ago. As duly elected representatives of our people, we, together with them, are setting the tone for progressive change and sustainable freedom in our land; and we believe the spirit of cooperation is vital as we seek to accomplish the noble objective of a better life for all. Through this Budget Vote, we once again pledge to honour our promise to the people of South Africa - a promise for the progressive realisation of a better life for all; and we ask them to join us in this effort.

As the Ministry for Public Service and Administration, we are starting this year on a sound footing, guided by the tone and resolutions of the 53rd National Conference of the ANC that was held in Mangaung in December 2012. The Conference adopted the National Development Plan (NDP) (Vision 20 30); the formulation of which was characterised by consultation and inclusivity. The NDP, and the National Planning Commission that developed it, are an outcome of extensive deliberations within the ANC-led Alliance over many years, the intention being to build broad consensus on the policy direction and pace of our country's political economy. This is an absolutely important point to make in view of the ideological theses, developed in part by the opposition, that seek to separate its development from the broader alliance and the ANC In fact, judging by the mood and tone of the 53rd National Conference, as well as the adoption of the Conference Declaration this reflects the level of enthusiasm among the general membership of the ANC.

Encouraged by the spirit and tone of progressive change that is espoused by the National Development Plan, we are tabling this budget with the intention to nip the challenges facing the public service in the bud. The Minister for Public Service and Administration is leading the efforts to take the public service to higher levels of productivity, with numerous interventions to which she has already referred, which must necessarily yield practical outcomes.

We are saying this because we understand that whilst budget is counted in Rands, its impact is measured in the improvement of the material conditions of our people. We will therefore work with the Minister to ensure that all the interventions she has introduced change the face of the public service and the broader machinery of the state for the better.

Honourable Chairperson and members of the House

It is vital that as we fix the public service, we start by building a healthy, safe working environment for all public servants because, ensuring a healthy workforce and a sound and enabling working environment are key elements in the efforts to construct a capable developmental public service.

We are happy therefore to announce that Government Medical Aid Scheme (GEMS) continues to grow and plays a critical role in our efforts to build a healthy public service. GEMS' membership has been increasing remarkably. In 2011: 595,737 principal members were enrolled on GEMS. In 2012 this figure rose to 662,469. Of this figure 207 000 were Public Service Employees on Levels 1 to 5. Our target for 2013 is 750,000 principal members of which 250,000 should be employees on Salary Level 1 to 5.

With regard to governance systems, processes and culture, the Institute of Directors of Southern Africa, which was assigned to conduct the Scheme's 2012 Board Effectiveness Assessment, found that the Board is in a good shape.

Honourable Chairperson, we are on course

As we roll out plans for this year, we want GEMS governance systems to remain in good shape whilst we improve on areas of weakness that were identified by the Institute of Directors of Southern Africa. We also want to see GEMS effectively playing its role in the implementation of the National Health Insurance (NHI). As Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said during his budget vote last week, implementing the NHI is critical as it will ensure that "every citizen has a right to access to good quality, affordable health care, and that the access should not be determined by the socio-economic condition of the individual" .

There is also a need to review the composition of the Board of Trustees to reflect government approach with regard to the implementation of the NHI and the single public service. From this perspective, the emerging consensus is that consideration should be given to the possible inclusion of representatives from the national departments of Health, CoGTA and the National Treasury in the Board of Trustees.

Chairperson

Having seen how new technologies are driving and reshaping governments throughout the world by enhancing public service performance, bringing government to the people and promoting accountability and transparency, we remain committed as this government to using information and communication technology (ICT) as a strategic lever to address inefficiencies and drive transformation in our service delivery systems.

The use of ICT in government is not only intended to have a focus on efficiency and effectiveness but also offers opportunities for information sharing, public participation and collaboration. ICT can assist to empower citizens by making available to them an interactive access to information so that they can understand what governments are doing and to influence decisions.

The President of the Republic has already made a clear undertaking when he signed the Open Government Partnership Declaration, thereby committing the South African government to, among others, increase access to new technologies for openness and accountability.

As Minister Sisulu noted at a recently held meeting of the Tshwane Branch of Black Management Forum (BMF), there is a need to build an agile state and public service for the benefit of society. One dimension of doing this is to address key ICT structural deficiencies that make service delivery highly complex and problematic.

The main objective is to explore how South Africa can take advantage of emerging technologies to improve the way government works. This is critical to promoting and improving efficiency in the delivery of services and strengthening citizen's participation and engagement. Our country can benefit immensely from the efficiencies and improved service that stem from digital processes.

The state is the custodian of massive data (personal and public) for the efficient functioning and meeting the needs of society - the so called Big Data. Areas that stand to benefit from big data techniques include crime prevention and combating (through amongst others DNA analysis, identifying drugs, causes of fires, polygraphs, analysis of gun-shot residue, handwriting analysis, blood-stain analysis and 3D facial recognition), health care, medical research, personal finance, national security and commerce. This data is growing and will continue to grow as a result of NHI needs, schools and Thusong Centre connectivity, universities research and development interactions with private sector, smart ID card, fingerprints database and Regulation of Interception of Communication Act (RICA) information. The way I see it, technology keeps improving and the data keeps proliferating; so it is up to us to figure out how to use them to solve some of our thorniest socio-economic problems. This is an opportunity for our country and government.

Honourable House Chairperson

We are setting the tone for deepening our system of participatory democracy. In this regard, our Community Development Workers (CDWs) have proven to be a vital link between government and communities on matters related to government`s programmes and community needs.

Last year we committed to making CDWs an integral part of an integrated approach towards enhancing service delivery, particularly in relation to (i) early childhood development (ii) food security (iii) HIV and AIDS (iv) job creation and social protection and (v) public information.

We are happy to report to this Honourable House that CDWs were able to link early childhood development centres (ECDCs) with programmes of the Department of Social Development. In the area of HIV/AIDS, CDWs disseminated user-friendly information on HIV/AIDS and they mobilised communities to actively participate in HIV/AIDS related awareness programmes including International Aids Day.

In terms of the food security promotion, CDWs identified indigent households and mobilised them to benefit from the food security programmes of the Department of Rural Development and Agriculture.

With regards to job creation, CDWs played a role in identifying and linking unemployed youths to government`s Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) and the Community Works Programme (CWP).

To empower CDWs with information on government priorities, we convened a national CDW conference for 500 CDWs from all provinces in March 2013. At this conference President Zuma addressed CDWs on government priorities as articulated in his State of the Nation Address; and Ministers Pravin Gorhan and Trevor Manuel empowered them to understand the 2013/14 Budget, National Development Plan respectively, so that they could communicate this important information to the communities in which they live and work.

In the year ahead we will highlight the role of CDWs as agents of participatory democracy by emphasising their functions which include:

  • Communicating government and other information to communities in an accessible way;
  • Providing feedback to government regarding community experiences of service delivery and governance;
  • Providing early warning to government of any obvious reduction in service standards and performance that could lead to collapse or significant impairment of the overall service functions;
  • Reporting any corruption or irregularity that is encountered within the sphere of government, government department, community organization or private sector

I can confirm to this House that the Minister of Social Development has expressed her happiness about the level of progress we are making with regard to the work of CDWs. I must state, however, that as government we are as yet to fully utilise CDWs. Their reporting and data collection systems remain inadequate. It is important, therefore, that we support CDWs in the execution of their critical job functions by providing this cohort of public servants with appropriate ICT support; effective management and reporting systems; and cost-effective tools of trade. The Social Development Minister and I have agreed on further engagements to devise mechanisms of improving the way CDWs do their work.

I am also pleased to inform this house, that we have established a partnership with the National Lotteries board, where the CDW's will communicate to communities opportunities to for community development through the funding provided by the National Lotteries board.

House Chairperson

Our public service continues to be confronted with challenges for which traditional government action is inadequate. It is experiencing increasing demands, like how to manage the complex issues of poverty, unemployment and inequality. At the same time it is operating within the context of tight fiscal constraints, making it necessary to deliver better outcomes for lower costs.

This challenge has been made even more acute by the global economic and financial crisis from which many countries, including ourselves, are as yet to fully recover. The crisis poses a massive contradiction by pulling governments in two directions. On the one hand, there is sustained pressure to come up with radical solutions to deliver services while at the same time cutting costs dramatically. On the other, the crisis has led to shrinking 'research and development' budgets that are needed to design and pilot these radical undertakings. At times like this, there is a strong justification for efficiency gains, better governance, faster delivery and more decisive interventions in the public sector.

It is within this narrative that we understand the value of our Centre for Public Service Innovation (CPSI). The Centre needs to work a lot harder in forging partnerships with the private sector, research and academic institutions to develop ideas can assist government change the lives of our people in more practical ways.

It is therefore critical, in the words of Martti Ahtisaari - former Finish President and member of The Elders of which our struggle icon Nelson Mandela is a founder and an honorary member -, that we learn from the tough times and challenges we face. As he said during his recent wide-ranging interview with The European, "Like human lives, social change unfolds in waves. The important challenge is to recognise when change is coming, or when it is necessary". Our own National Planning Commission states that on a 'business- as-usual' basis we are likely to fall short in meeting our strategic objectives of creating a democratic and prosperous South Africa.

For innovation to take place we need political will to improve the role of government in facing the challenges of the day, including learning from our past failures; striving for superior performance; being responsive and being more people-centred. We need to create a political environment that is receptive to new innovative ideas. We need push the legislative boundaries and not be limited by the bureaucratic red tape. An example that comes to mind is the issue of unsolicited bids, which must not be seen only as potential source of corruption, but as an important lever which could assist to enhance government performance. The system in orther words, has to be receptive to innovation and new ideas to promote the culture of continues improvement and learning.

House Chairperson and Honourable Members

The ANC, which has since 1994 been given the mandate by the overwhelming majority of South Africans to lead the efforts to create a national democratic society, has always been part of the forces that work to advance the African continent and its peoples. It was under the ANC-led government that this country became one of the continent's pioneers of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) under the aegis of the African Union's New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).

The APRM turned 10 years old on March 9, 2013, and this afforded all the participating countries the opportunity to reflect on the successes of this unique African instrument of self-assessment and challenges encountered.

Our belief in open government is informed, deep-seated and consistent with our desire to have a better Africa in a better world. We have already submitted two periodic reports to the African Union Summit of Heads of States and Government (HOSG) of APRM participating countries. We are currently preparing a third progress report, which the President of our Republic is scheduled to present to the African Union at its Extra-ordinary Session in September. This is consistent with the decision taken by the African Union to postpone the presentation of country APRM progress reports so that the May Summit, which the President will be attending later this week, focuses exclusively on the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the predecessor to the African Union - The Organisation of African Unity (OAU) on 25 May 2013. As South Africa we will participate in the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the OAU/AU; for this continental giant played a critical role in the demise of colonialism and apartheid in our own land.

In all the APRM progress reports have referred we have been frank about our successes as a country as well as the challenges we face in the realm of political, economic, corporate and socio-economic development. We have received feedback from other sister countries in terms of how we are faring in these areas. This feedback has painted a positive image of our country, whilst at the same time being emphatic around issues of land reform, poverty, unemployment, inequality, racism and xenophobia. Our attitude is not to adopt a defensive posture but rather to take criticism in good faith and address issues raised. After all, one of the objectives of the APRM is the promotion of peer learning through identifying, collecting, disseminating and adopting best practices among countries participating in the APRM.

We are also encouraged by the space that has been created by the APRM for civil society to participate in processes related to assessing governance systems. In this sense, the APRM has enhanced public participation in the governance process in our country - this was evident even as we went around the provinces soliciting inputs for the 3rd progress report. The provincial consultations were attended by all sectors of society and parties interested in APRM.

House Chairperson

I must repeat, South Africa became one of the pioneers of the APRM because the ANC believes in the principles of transparency and accountability as well as other values that are espoused in the APRM. Naturally and consistent with these principles and values, our government endorsed the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Declaration of Principles in September 2011, thereby committing itself to work with civil society towards enhancing transparency, public participation, accountability, and the fight against corruption in both the public and private spheres.

As government, we consulted with civil society in 2011 to draft an OGP country action plan with concrete commitments towards Service Delivery Improvement. And in keeping with government`s sustained commitment to participatory governance, we reached more than 20 million citizens on Service Delivery Improvement. Citizen engagement and public participation is a central theme in the OGP. As such in the past few months we have engaged in a series of consultations, which include the following:

  • 66 Community Radio broadcasts where citizens had the opportunity to phone-in and engage in matters related to service delivery improvement, openness and transparency;
  • 2 public television and commercial radio broadcasts;
  • 8 print and internet news media advertorials in English, Afrikaans, and IsiZulu - the three most widely spoken languages in the country;
  • 2 Roundtable Dialogues with business chambers, press clubs, labour unions, and civil society organisation representatives;
  • Door-to-door information sharing and input gathering campaigns by government`s 3100 Community Development Workers;

House Chairperson,

I want this Honourable House to note that in 2012, a coalition of South African based organisations drafted a letter to the OGP Steering Committee stating that the Protection of State Information Bill (POSIB) infringes on citizen`s right of access to information and that South Africa should be expelled from the OGP unless it withdraws the Bill. What these organisations choose to ignore is that one of the aims of this Bill is to repeal the unconstitutional apartheid legislation that is still on our statute book with pre-publication censorship provisions. The proposed legislation aims to address amongst others the rising threat of espionage and hostile activities, the selling of information and the protection of critical databases in government, without impeding the constitutional rights of citizens to access state and information. The Bill will also protect personal information on the Big Data.

As the envoy of the President of the Republic of South Africa in the OGP, I reminded the government and civil society representatives on the OGP Steering Committee that except for the South African government, all OGP Steering Committee governments have legal frameworks in place that balance the presumption of openness with the needs of national security. In fact, I reminded them that 86 countries, most of whom are established democracies and members of the OGP, have some form of access to information legislation which goes hand in hand with the protection of State information in the interest of national security, defence, foreign relations, public safety, or public order.

South Africa`s ongoing participation in the global OGP initiative and the continental APRM initiative shows our government`s sustained commitment to transparency, accountability and citizen participation within the context of our Constitution. It is also important to underscore the point that as Africans, and out of our own volition, we sought to promote the principles of transparency, accountability and citizen participation through the APRM - long before the OGP was even conceived. Therefore the charge that we seek to suppress people's freedoms has no basis.

I must also remind this Honourable House that, despite having had a two-thirds majority in Parliament at some point, the ANC has never sought to change the Constitution willy-nilly. South Africans, therefore, have every reason to trust the ANC-led government.

Chairperson, in the year ahead, we will update South Africa`s OGP country action plan based on the inputs made by the many citizens throughout the country. We will also synergise the stakeholder engagement framework for the OGP and APRM in order to minimise the problem of participation fatigue on the part of citizens who up till now have been called to participate in the APRM and OGP separately.

House Chairperson

Apart from the APRM and the OGP, we are involved in many other global initiatives which give effect to our resolve to be a responsible international player.

In keeping with the African Agenda, South Africa was given the responsibility by the African Union Conference of African Ministers for Public Service (AU-CAMPS) to champion capacity building as part of the evolving framework of the Conference of Ministers to build capable developmental states in Africa.

The AU-CAMPS also launched the African Management Development Institute Network (AMDIN) as its training arm with the purpose of strengthening Management Development Institutes (MDIs) to allow them to respond to the African development agenda. PALAMA is a member of AMDIN and thus supports the implementation of AU-CAMPS thematic area programmes around capacity building on the African continent.

We are also responsible, through the CPSI, for the implementation of the All-Africa Public Sector Innovation Awards (AAPSIA) within the framework of the AU-CAMPS. This programme is helping African countries, ourselves included, to learn from each other and is viewed as the flagship programme of the Conference of Ministers.

Within the latitude provided by the global multilateral and bilateral system to address the challenges facing humanity today, our country will stay the course and consolidate the reform agenda in the sphere of governance and public administration, actively participate in the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda, and remain committed to the work of the OECD Public Governance Committee of which we are a proud member.

The promotion of South-South cooperation is of critical importance to us and in this regard we are positioning ourselves to create and strategically insert the governance and public administration agenda as part of implementing the Action Plan during South Africa's Chairpersonship of the BRICS block of countries. At a bilateral level, we will reach out to and deepen relations with our traditional partners such as China, India, the DRC, Egypt, Angola to name but a few.

Our active participation in all the initiatives we have highlighted is at the centre of our strategy to engage like-minded players in the global political and economic sphere to identify emerging economic, social and political issues that are not only vital to the promotion and sustainability of an interdependent global community, but that will ultimately liberate hundreds of millions of the vulnerable and economically deprived Africans, and other similarly disadvantaged peoples across the globe.

I must hasten to add that South Africa has a window of opportunity to extend and secure our present peace by promoting its values and thereby developing, in the long-term, a model of South African internationalism. We will work with like-minded countries to be a force for good and a champion of progressive change. This we will do as part of ensuring that future generations live in abundance, enjoy the security of the immediate and see a future that holds real promise. We owe it to the world; particularly those that helped us attain the freedom we now enjoy. I am talking of Julius Nyerere's, Olof Palme, Samora Machel, Agostino Neto and all of the progressive peoples across the world.

Chairperson

Just as the National Development Plan exhorts us to work together to galvanise our collective energies for the realisation of our strategic goals, I want to conclude by reminding this Honourable House that if we work together we will achieve much more. I therefore would like to thank members of this House for their continued support to the work of the Ministry.

I also thank the President for his continued leadership in OGP.

Minister, thank you for the support and able leadership you have demonstrated since joining the Portfolio in June 2012.

Many thanks to officials of the different institutions within the MPSA portfolio.

House Chairperson, once more, thank you sincerely for this opportunity and in so saying, I move for the support of this Budget Vote.


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