MEDIA STATEMENTS

Governance and Administration cluster media briefing, 10:00, 28 September 2014

Date: 29 Sep 2014

Ministers

Deputy Ministers

Directors-General

Members of the Media

Ladies and Gentlemen

Thank you for joining us at this morning's Governance and Administration Cluster media briefing. Today we are outlining progress relating to the implementation of government's Programme of Action, which was announced by President Jacob Zuma during the State of the Nation Address in June this year.

The Cluster is today reporting on the first quarter of the new administration giving highlights of the achievements of the fifth democratic government:

The President, with the support of the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, convened the Presidential Local Government Summit, held on 18 September 2014 under the theme: 'Back to Basics: Serving Our Communities Better. The Summit was attended by one thousand six hundred and fifty (1 650) delegates from across various sectors and government. The President called upon local government and all stakeholders to "get the basics right" in order to create conditions for decent living and happiness for all by providing quality service and amenities.

The Summit adopted a Statement Of Intent that committed local government, key stakeholders and partners such as national and provincial governments, the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), business, labour, civil society to strengthen municipalities and ensure radical improvements in service delivery at local government level. The outcomes of the Summit instilled a sense of urgency towards improving the lives of citizens and confirmed that "Back to Basics" is about setting clear benchmarks of performance in efforts to ensure that all municipalities perform their basic responsibilities, every day, without fail. Going back to basics could be achieved by local government focussing on its key constitutional and legislative mandates through:

  1. Putting people first (Batho Pele);
  2. Delivering sustainable services to the people;
  3. Ensuring good governance;
  4. Ensuring sound financial management; and
  5. Developing and maintaining institutional capacity

Efforts to strengthen and broaden public participation in local service delivery through ward committees are in progress. Since May 2014, a total of 450 Ward Level Service Improvement Plans have been developed focusing on, amongst others, the filling of potholes, repairing non-functioning traffic lights, preventing service interruptions, attending to billing queries and cleaning of open spaces. A cumulative total of 3294 ward service improvement plans have been developed to date.

Harmonising relations between Municipal and Traditional Councils to strengthen and enhance public participation which in turn will ensure development to be sustainable and successful.

Through the Community Work Programme, we recorded 178 788 work opportunities by end of July 2014. The number of youth that benefited was 77 167 (43%) and women were 134 815 (75%). Municipalities with CWP sites were 155 in total. Currently, there is implementation of about 22 new sites in progress for the 2014/15 financial year.

Preparations for 2016 Local Government Elections are underway and the formula for determination of number of councillors has been gazetted by the Minister as per the Local Government: Municipal Structures Act. This is a significant step towards paving the way for Municipal Demarcation Board and the Independent Electoral Commission to prepare for the upcoming Local Government Elections in 2016.

Government implemented the imbizo focus week (14 to 19 July 2014). The focus week provided Political Principals an opportunity to assess first hand, progress on the implementation of government's priority programmes. During the focus week, a total of Forty-eight (48) activities were undertaken by The Presidency, Cabinet Ministers as well as Premiers.

This year (2014), Public Service Month afforded South Africans an opportunity to reflect on the Public Service and its ability to deliver quality services that meet the expectations of the public, in line with government's Batho Pele programme.

Public Service Month included the endorsement of the Urban Thusong Concept through the official launch of the Maponya Thusong Service Centre in Soweto. An Urban Thusong Services Centre provides integrated services to citizens under one roof, in an urban location that is convenient and accessible. Underpinned by an uncompromising focus on client service excellence, offering a professional, effective, efficient and client-centric service to its citizen customer base, these centres will provide services in a manner similar to a private sector company such as a modern, client-focused bank.

For the first time this year (2014) government has introduced the Thusong Centre Week aligned to the public service month under the theme "Reinventing the way Public Servants Work, Batho Pele". The week's activities concentrated on profiling and raising awareness of this centres.

Government, through the Department of Home Affairs, has launched the Maponya Mall Smart ID Card Dedicated Office to cater specifically for Smart ID card and passport applications, including collections of both products. So far, we have issued over 800 thousand Smart ID cards, of which 640 thousand were issued this financial year. The department has set out to increase its footprint throughout the country and has moved to offer specialised services at its offices. We are in contact with other provinces to roll-out these specialised offices in similar high-volume malls countrywide. Our plan, moving forward, is to segregate services to increase efficiency in the quest for improved service delivery.

To this end, we must make a call for new born children to be registered at health facilities upon birth or within 30 days. This exercise will be contributing to efforts to clean-up the country's National Population Register and ensure that the only gateway into the register is through timely registration of birth. In this regard, we have announced that as of 31 December 2015, we will discontinue the practice of Late Registration of Birth as we continue to seek to restore the citizenship of our people. It is therefore critical that we appeal to South Africans to value their citizenship and protect their identity documents to keep our National Population Register dignified.

With respect to discipline in the Public Service, the policy framework of the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) seeks to ensure that discipline in the Public Service is managed effectively and efficiently by departments and provinces. To this effect, government is creating a centralised capacity to assist departments and provinces with capacity to deal with the backlog.

Cabinet has approved the creation of a pool of labour relations specialists and a team of legal experts from the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development to deal with all backlog cases on precautionary suspensions in the Public Service. The labour relations specialists and legal experts are state employees; therefore there will be no extra cost to the State in speedily resolving the outstanding cases.

Regarding issues of ethics and integrity, from April 2014 we started the roll-out of the E-Disclosure system for senior managers in the Public Service. This is a web-based disclosure system that enables senior managers to declare their financial interests electronically. The system uses modern technology and intelligent financial systems to help prevent corruption and maladministration in the Public Service. For the 2013/14 disclosure period which ended in July 2014, 77% of senior managers in the public service utilised the E-Disclosure system. We expect the uptake of the E-Disclosure system to increase.

The DPSA has developed a Productivity Management and Measurement Framework to promote a more efficient, effective and development-orientated public service by providing departments with a toolkit to manage and measure their levels of productivity. The application of the framework should yield improvements in the quality and quantity of public services in line with the realistic expectations of citizens.

The planning function has now been institutionalised in government and DPME has now taken over responsibility for regulating and guiding the 5 year strategic planning and annual performance planning processes that are undertaken by national and provincial departments.

A key milestone which was achieved in the first six months of this administration was the finalisation and public release of the Medium-term Strategic Framework (MTSF) 2014 - 2019. The MTSF contains targets related to the 14 priority focus areas for government, and is the blueprint for how this administration will implement the National Development Plan over the next five years. On a quarterly basis Cabinet will receive progress reports on the implementation of the MTSF by the relevant outcome coordinating Ministers as well as by DPME. This progress will be made publicly available through the Programme of Action website managed by DPME.

Another important development over the last six months has been the launch of Operation Phakisa by the President. Operation Phakisa involves very detailed activity-level joint planning by all the stakeholders which need to work together address a particular issue. This joint planning is followed by intensive monitoring of implementation, coupled with high-level intervention to unblock blockages. The first of these planning sessions (known as labs), focused on growing the oceans economy and creating jobs in that sector, was completed in August, and the detailed plans will be made public in October. The second Operation Phakisa lab, focusing on improving the quality of health services provided in clinics, will also start in October.

DPME continues to carry out evaluations of a range of government programmes - currently 37 evaluations are underway, in addition to the two which have been publicly released. It also continues to carry out unannounced monitoring visits to service delivery sites and engaging with the management of the relevant departments regarding the required improvements.

By March 2014, 190 000 complaints and queries had been logged through the Presidential Hotline and the resolution rate was 95%. This is an improvement year-on-year from a resolution rate of 64% (end Sept 2010), 78% (end Oct 2011) and 87% (end Oct 2012). DPME carries out telephonic citizen satisfaction surveys for the Presidential Hotline. By March 2014, 14 705 citizens had been surveyed, and 75% rated the service as fair to good.

The achievements we have recorded have been the result of various sectors and citizens working with government, playing their part for a better South Africa. We look forward to working with our social partners in the country and beyond to move South Africa forward.

We remain committed to deliver on our mandate with a clear Programme of Action and will continue to deal with all the challenges we face as a country.

I thank you


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