Today heralds a new era for public service accountability. We launch the Public Service Charter with a fervent intent to professionalise and encourage excellence in the public service and to improve service delivery programmes.
A commitment between the State as the Employer and Labour, the Public Service Charter stems from a 2012/13-2014/15 wage agreement which includes a resolution that the Employer will "review the Remuneration Policy of the Public Service" while parties (Labour and Employer) will enter into a service charter for the public service. The charter thus introduces service standards in the public service with a call to public servants to meet and exceed them.
The adoption of a Public Service Charter outlining the commitment of the state, public servants and the citizenry is a necessary historic collaborative effort that will build a foundation that will ensure the rendering of quality services. It will also ensure that the public service is professionalized, trained, capacitated, effective, efficient and development-oriented.
The National Planning Commission (NPC) points out to significant areas for attention by the public service. One of the observations of the NPC is that South Africa has a progressive constitution, and a body of laws designed to protect and advance citizen's rights yet there is often a significant gap between the aspirations set out in official policy and what happens on the ground.
The absence of consciousness within the public service which recognises that public servants are there to serve the people and which therefore results in lacklustre performance by public servants in rendering services to the public is cited as one of the shortcomings.
Against this backdrop, the Public Service Charter will serve as a guiding tool for good governance, democracy and sound working relations between the State, public servants, sectors in the civil society and the general citizenry.
Based on the recognition by the partners that citizens are at the centre of service delivery, as recipients, providers and custodians of public services, the Charter is a statement of intent that enables service beneficiaries to understand what they can expect from the state and forms the basis of engagement between the government, citizens and organs of civil society.
From a disenfranchised citizenship that had no political or economic power and no influence over decision-making to improve the quality, quantity, accessibility, affordability or efficacy of public services that were made available to them by the government of the day, we are through the Charter advancing to a culture where citizens are proactive in enforcing their role in public service delivery.
The Public Service Charter reflects the services provided by the State clearly articulating the service standards, rights and expectations of citizens, as well as the obligations of citizens.
The Charter commits public servants on amongst other professional goals to serve the public in an unbiased and impartial manner in order to create confidence in the public service; to provide timely services to promote the development and upliftment of all South Africans; to respect and protect every person's dignity and rights as contained in the Constitution; to not engage in any transaction or action that is in conflict with or infringes on the execution of official duties; to act against fraud, corruption, nepotism, maladministration and any other act which constitutes an offence, or which is prejudicial to the public interest; and to demonstrate professionalism, competency, excellence, transparency and impartiality in the performance of official duties.
Through the Charter all partners undertake to uphold the constitutional responsibility of the State clearly articulated in the Bill of Rights to respect, protect, promote and fulfil these rights and to deliver services to the citizenry commensurate with their hopes and aspirations.
In seeking to create an environment that will ensure we thrive as the public service, the State commits to create an enabling environment and provide adequate resources and tools of trade, within the confines of what is available, for public servants to perform their duties. We shall implement conditions of service that will fairly reward public servants, including; adopting and implementing health and wellness policies and programmes that secure the health and wellbeing of all public servants.
Discipline management remains a key priority to us. We will thus implement a discipline management system that corrects and sanctions misbehaviour. We will amongst other interventions, implement skills development and mentorship programmes and policies to support career pathing in the public service; implement human resource management and development programmes that ensure recruitment of suitable candidates into the public service; introduce modern and innovative procedures and systems for the delivery of services; implement information and communication technology policies and programmes to support and improve the delivery of services; implement governance systems that optimizes management of resources, risk management and audit management; and simplify procedures and ease formalities related to access and delivery of services.
The State also commits to implement service delivery improvement programmes; introduce systems and processes that facilitate citizen's access to government services; institute national accountability and integrity systems to promote value-based societal behaviour and attitudes as a means of preventing corruption.
The stability and effectiveness of the public sector is greatly dependent on the commitment and devotion of its staff. It is thus imperative for the State to provide an enabling environment. Our expectation from public servants is for all to embrace discipline in implementation of our priorities, compliance with norms, standards and statutes, compassion for the all employees and the public we serve, and efficiency in performance.
Mobile: 083 645 7838
Date: 29 August 2013