SPEECHES

Address by Deputy Minister for Public Service and Administration, Ms. Ayanda Dlodlo at the Bloemfontein roundtable 16 July 2013

Date: 16 Jul 2013

Honourable Premier

MEC's,

Councillors,

Senior Managers,

Community Development Workers,

I am pleased to be in Bloemfontein today to address you on the important global initiative of Open Government Partnership . As you are probably aware in September 2011, the President of the Republic endorsed the South African government`s participation in the Open Government Partnership (OGP), which is a multilateral initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, accountability, empower citizens, strengthen the fight against corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance systems.

OGP participating countries, such as South Africa, are required to:

  • Endorse a non-binding Declaration of Principles on Open Government; which South Africa has done through President JG Zuma on 21 September 2011
  • Develop country action plans on open government through a multi-stakeholder participatory process; which South Africa has submitted on 14 September 2011.
  • Commit to scrutiny and verification of progress by a body of independent experts called the Independent Review Mechanism (IRM).
  • Contribute to the advancement of open government in other countries through sharing of best practices, expertise, technical assistance, technologies and appropriate resources.South Africa is a member of the Learning and Peer Support (LPS) sub-committee of the OGP through which it is fulfilling this outreach responsibility .

The South African OGP country action plan, which was developed in consultation with civil society organisations from across the country; including citizen and business sector inputs through the National Planning Commission`s Diagnostic Overview consultation processes, identifies Service Delivery Improvement as the country`s grand challenge.

The South African action plan further identifies seven commitments as concrete steps towards addressing the grand challenge of Service Delivery Improvement. These seven commitments are:

  1. Developing citizen participation guidelines for government departments.
  2. Establishing Service Delivery Improvements Forums.
  3. Implementing a "Know Your Service Rights and Responsibilities" campaign.
  4. Capacity development of anti-corruption officials.
  5. Developing guidelines on sanctions for corruption related cases.
  6. Involving civil society in the budget process in order to enhance the progressive realisation of socio-economic rights and enable citizens to track public expenditure.
  7. Developing a portal for environmental management information.

These commitments and our progress in their implementation will be dealt with in detail later in the program. It is critical to indicate that South Africa's accession to the OGP is indicative of a long journey of self- discovery and her unquenchable thirst to deepen democracy and improve governance .

This initiative denotes South Africa commitment to inclusiveness and the participatory nature of her democracy. A paradigm shift from our colonial past it presents yet another opportunity for the state and citizenry to work together in the achievement of a better life for the people.

For our Community Development Workers the OGP presents yet another challenge as well as an avenue to interphase with our people. It comes at an opportune time when we are witness in our country a greater need to strengthen the trust between the government not by empty rhetoric by concrete deeds and well documented history of delivery.

It is more so this year which was declared by President Zuma in his 2013 State of Nation Address ( SONA)

PURPOSE:

For this reason and parallel to the roundtable discussion we will be hosting a CDW workshop to ensure that you - our envoys on the ground - are empowered to communicate directly with our people in the villages and towns where they live, the message that government cares and that we are working diligently to address their immediate needs. To remind our people that where there was no clean running water now there is a tap, no electricity - now the streets are bright, no live hood- now there are grants. Most importantly to communicate that there is hope and that ultimately our government will reach all our people in time.

You should leave this occasion and your workshop with an assurance that you - our foot soldiers in communities - are an important instrument and cogwheel in government`s ongoing efforts to accelerate service delivery to our communities.

After this workshop, you should have a deeper understanding of government`s priorities for this year as outlined in the President`s State of the Nation Address (SONA) You should be able to explain to the communities in which you do your door-to-door work how these priorities respond to their needs. a. You should be able to articulate the OGP and its strategic intent.. Our people must know that this government cares for them by responding to their immediate needs.

In addition we will refresh your memory on how to communicate with citizens and the Know Your Service Rights campaign.

YOUR WORK:

The introduction of the CDW Programme was approved by Cabinet on 19 November 2003,and specific objectives of the programme are to:

  • improve the dissemination of information to the communities about benefits and services to which all citizens are entitled to;
  • assist communities to access and benefit from the services that could materially improve their lives;
  • provide an interface between government and communities so as to improve the level of public participation between communities and government in line with our Constitution which requires the Public Service to engage the public in governance and development process.

As CDWs, your work is important in the lives of our people who for historical reasons have limited access to services. You work with government departments to link our citizens to services they would ordinarily not be able to access due to locality and mobility constraints; and you make government more accessible to those who have difficulty in transacting their daily lives due to poverty and circumstances beyond their control - you are their guardian angels.

As we highlight the importance of your role we must also state that we are aware to the difficult circumstance and constraints within which you are discharging your duties. As those who are in the coal face more resources should be pumped to the CDW program so that you are better capacitated to do your job. It is my Sincere Appeal to those have oversight over CDW's to give them a better working environment.

You are a proud symbol of the development orientation of our Public Service in that your work requires you to regularly visit households and unblock service delivery challenges and obstacles. You empower our people by providing information and linking citizens to government services. You are helping our people to help themselves, to becoming productive and contributing citizens and in so doing, adding to the development and advancement of this our beautiful country.

NATIONAL CDW CONFERENCE:

Given the importance of your work in service to our people, it was not surprising that President Zuma, when he addressed the National Conference of CDWs on 14 March, said that you are his representatives in communities and, as such, you must communicate the content of his SONA to communities in an understandable and accessible manner.

The President singled out the following specific issues he wants you to convey to our communities:

  • Government is aware of citizen concerns about the quality and pace of service delivery and is working to improve performance in this regard.
  • Government is concerned about the violent and destructive nature of community protests and will meet such violent acts with the full force of the law
  • Education is an apex priory of government. Hence, the Presidential Remuneration Review Committee has been tasked to prioritise the remuneration of teachers.
  • Communities must know that a qualified audit result by the Office of the Auditor-General does not mean that government is generally corrupt.
  • Family is the first primary school for our children and parents must not abdicate their responsibility to inculcate positive values in our children.

The overall message of President Zuma to all CDWs - especially to those in rural areas - is that you are the caring face of our government in communities. You are his representatives. You must represent him well!

In her address to CDWs at the National CDW Conference, Minister LindiweSisulu described you as her "early warning system" in communities with regard to the maintenance of service delivery norms and standards in line with our Batho Pele principles. She made it clear that a key measure of your work-related performance will be that there should be no service delivery protests in your wards. Should this occur, you will be required to account for the actions you have taken (or not taken) to prevent such acts. In the same vein we must appeal to leaders at municipal and provincial level to intervene timeously and decisively when you CDW's warn them of the impending or simmering citizens dissatisfaction gleaned as a result of your work on the ground closer to the people.

Minister Sisulu also reminded the conference that CDWs are Public Servants - not politicians, reiterating that if CDWs choose to stand for political office, they must resign as CDWs otherwise the tensions between CDWs (as public officials) and Councillors (as political office-bearers) will be exacerbated.

In their respective addresses, Former Minister Richard Baloyi emphasised your important role as pioneers in the Public Service as you are already practising the ethos of a "Single Public Service" as your work straddles across the three spheres of government. Minister Pravin Gordhan urged that you must know, and explain to communities, how the global economy impacts on our country and the lives of our communities. You should explain to communities that government has a limited budget which cannot address all the needs of our people immediately. For this reason he emphasised the importance of you, our CDWs, in building development-orientated partnerships between government, the private sector, and the communities in which you live and work.

APRM AND OPEN GOVERNMENT PARTNERSHIP:

As you are aware we were in the process of finalising our third APRM Report. I want to thank all of you who have mobilised communities to ensure that their voices are heard in the APRM process and throughout the African continent on matters of democracy and political governance; economic governance and management; corporate governance; and socio-economic development.

Unfortunately and due to pressing matters in the past summit countries were not given an opportunity to present their progress reports. We await the directive of the Heads of States and Participating Governments Committee on when the reports will be tabled. We are however proud of the work we have done in this regard . We recognise that our endeavour of improving governance systems comprises of a plethora of initiatives which must be aligned, synergised for maximum impact.

CONCLUSION :

South Africa continues to improve on its governance architecture as witnessed by its involvement in programs like the APRM, OGP, OECD etc. The bold stance to join these initiatives are indicative of a government that cares about tomorrow.

For The CDW it is critical that you are at the center of these initiatives. It is important that you understand what they meaningful impact is in relation to our people's aspirations.

You must be able to communicate the resounding message to our people, Today is better than yesterday and tomorrow will be better than today.


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