Honourable House Chairperson,
Honourable the Acting-Minister for Public Service and Administration, Mr Nathi Mthethwa,
Honourable Members of Parliament
All protocols observed
Ladies and Gentlemen
The 8th of January in 1980 which was declared by the African National Congress (ANC) as the Year of the Charter. The President of the ANC, Comrade Oliver Reginald Tambo had this to say about the Freedom Charter "When we together drew up and adopted the Freedom Charter, we stated the matter plainly that each people has a right to independence and self-government, and to equal status".
These words ring true even today because the Freedom Charter constitutes the embodiment of our deepest aspirations as a people.
Honourable House Chairperson, today we present the 2015/16 budget for the Ministry for Public Service and Administration, at a very low point. We remain in mourning, following the tragic loss of our leader, the late Minister Collins Chabane.
What a visionary, what a pragmatist, what a unifying force and what a humanitarian he was!
It was an honour for me to have worked with Minister Chabane in his capacity as Minister for Public Service and Administration. Although it was for a short while, his presence had a profound impact to me personally and the staff of the portfolio as whole.
He was a visionary and demanded from us a deep reflection on the mandate of this portfolio and our responsibility to the communities who depend on us for a better service experience in every government department.
The pragmatist in him drove us hard to come up with innovative ways in which we can improve the efficiency of the public service. He encouraged the MPSA portfolio to pay special attention to the front-line service delivery as he believed that it was the section of the public service which needed the most attention.
This unique perspective on improving service delivery is one that understood public servants at the frontline to be in need of revitalisation through: direct engagement, capacity development and encouragement.
The humanitarian in him taught us to be always keenly aware and responsive to improving the working conditions of lower levels employees.
Minister Chabane the unifying force. He was able to come into the portfolio and within a short period of time was able to have such a positive impact within the organisation leading to everyone feeling that they are valued and that they could make a significant contribution in turning the public administration machinery around, for a greater efficiency.
As we remember him, we do so guided by the wisdom and humility of this great leader whose life was a true embodiment of the principles of Batho Pele.
Honourable House Chairperson, we wish to report-back to this House and our people on the undertakings we made during the budget Vote debate on the 17 July 2014, which are as follows:
Community Development Workers (CDWs)
Last year, we made a commitment that we would ensure that Community Development Workers (CDWs) support the programmes of the National Development Plan.
In the last financial year, CDWs continued to empower communities in public participation programmes. In Mpumalanga, CDWs facilitated community participation in the Integrated Development Planning processes. The province has also successfully developed a system that provides regular update on service delivery protest.
Community Development Workers in Kwazulu Natal were instrumental in mobilising the community to participate in meetings where the proposed municipal demarcation changes of wards were discussed. This reduced the number of community protests in the area.
On the same score, the Eastern Cape CDWs is assisting municipalities to speedily clear the backlogs of petitions submitted by communities.
Provinces continued to identify children who are outside the Early Childhood Development (ECD) programmes. To this effect Free State identified 1298 that were not attending school and are now in the ECD programme.
The North West CDWP hosted the Ward Based Planning summit in Dr. RS Mompati Municipality to enable local communities to effectively participate and monitor government local planning processes.
At this point, allow me to pause a pay tribute to our dearly departed veteran of the struggle, Dr Ruth Mompati. Mme Ruth was not only a freedom fighter but a gender activist, a mother to some and an impressionable revolutionary. Throughout her life, Dr Mompati worked to improve the lives of all South Africans as she dedicated her entire life to the liberation of our people.
We have made little progress in resolving the challenge of the location of the CDW programme , therefore making it difficult to derive the true value of the programme as was envisaged at inception.
Thusong Service Centres
Our previous budget vote in 2014 focused on reinventing government. This will continue to be the focus of how we transform the public service and administration portfolio. Our commitment of creating synergy between Thusong Service Centres (TSC) and other public participation programmes to enhance service delivery is on track.
Based on the experiences of the Department of Home Affairs, we are more convinced of the need to investigate convenient service hours and locations to improve accessibility for the citizens.
In September 2014, the Maponya Thusong Centre in Maponya Mall, in Soweto, was launched by the Deputy President. The urban Thusong Centre approach aimed at ensuring that communities can access government services at their convenience; these include extending service hours to the public, provision of services even during the weekend, etc.
NATIONAL SCHOOL OF GOVERNMENT
Honourable House Chairperson, professionalising the public service is no mean feat and can only be achieved through a uniform strategy in mandatory training; the establishment of a common vision and sense of purpose, maintenance of common Human Resources Development norms and enhanced learning.
In November 2014, the Minister approved a directive on compulsory capacity development, mandatory training days and minimum entry requirements for the Senior Management Service (SMS), which is to be implemented with effect from the 2016/17 financial year.
The NSG has been mandated with the implementation of this which must be completed by potential SMS members as a pre-entry certificate into the SMS. The NSG will, during the 2015/16 financial year, commence with processes towards giving effect to this directive in the subsequent years.
As part of the contribution to Youth Development, the National School of Government drives the Youth Graduate programme which is an on-going strategy to recruit youth into the public service as a career of choice. The NSG also provides development and support programmes in the form of compulsory induction as well as an Advanced Development Programme for the entire public service.
Minister Chabane's untimely demise came at the time when we were negotiating possible multi-year agreements with various reputable world institutions, to train a 'critical mass' of decision makers in an effort to improve on leadership, management and policy training for South Africa's public servants. This initiative was as a result of Minister's appreciation that the NSG offerings needed to be strengthened through benchmarking and leveraging on international best practise.
CENTRE FOR PUBLIC SERVICE INNOVATION
Honourable House Chairperson, the National Development Plan provides guidance by unpacking a number of key drivers for change, and what would constitute an enabling environment. Innovation, it says, should start to become pervasive across state, business and social sectors. Innovation should focus on improved public services, goods and services aimed at low-income sectors.
The Centre for Public Service Innovation, collaboratively explores service, process or product opportunities using research tools for gathering data and ideas from citizens, business, government departments, organisations, entities and international better practice. Thereafter determine the Design Funnel from screening alternative models and exploiting new technologies or materials to workable solutions for citizens.
Reinventing government may be a long, complicated and contentious process, but is the only process that will allow us to realise our vision of creating a better life for all.
We are pleased that as of 1 April 2015, The Centre for Public Service Innovation is a fully fledged government component, operating independently of the DPSA. This has had a percentage increase in the budget allocation for the CPSI and also that it can now explore other funding mechanisms.
The CPSI will continue to initiate new pilot projects and replicate innovations coming from our Public Sector Innovation Awards Programme. We will soon see St John's College being connected to other rural schools around Mthatha, so that they can share in the excellence and performance of this exceptional school.
Citizen Engagenemt/ Public Participation
Our citizen engagement priorities are found in the 1955 Freedom Charter, when we said, I quote, that: " The People shall Govern: All people shall be entitled to take part in the administration of the country".
It is only through social dialogue, public participation, access to information and decision making, as well as capacitating citizens to have a voice in influencing public policy making processes, that our endeavours are meaningful in transforming our society and citizen-government relationship.
To this end, we are immersed in the work of two international governance and accountability instruments namely; the Open Government Partnership and the African Peer Review Mechanism
OPEN GOVERNMENT PARTNERSHIP
Honourable House Chairperson, the country has, through the Open Government Partnership (OGP), assumed increasing responsibility and leadership in the global battle for openness and transparency. South Africa was elected to the position of Co-Chair of the Open-Government Partnership (OGP) Steering Committee from October 2014, with Mexico as the lead Chair.
In the year 2015-16 we will assume the position of the Lead Chair of the OGP an institution that has reflected a significant growth from 8 countries in 2011 to 65 countries in 2015.
Therefore, ladies and gentlemen, given the primacy of strengthening good governance locally in 2015 and beyond, we will focus on creating and strengthening mechanisms for on-going civil society and government interaction.
To this end, we have recently held consultative meetings with civil society on the OGP, which culminated in a proposed approach on how to institutionalise the social dialogue between government and civil society on OGP.
We are currently in the process of consultation on the OGP Midterm Self-Assessment report which looks at the progress the country has made in implementing the OGP Country Action Plan. This report we will submit to the OGP at the end of May 2015.
AFRICAN PEER REVIEW MECHANISM
Honourable House Chairperson, the Africa Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) is another initiative for good governance and citizen engagement. We have an obligation to support it and we must do all we can to strengthen it because it is our demonstration to the world that in our continent leaders and citizens are committed to the highest levels of accountability.
South Africa, in our capacity as host of the APRM Secretariat, we wish to report to this house that we are on track with finalising the host agreement.
In our capacity as the chair of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Recruitment, we are pleased to inform you that we have completed the process of recruitment of all executive positions, except the position of the Chief Executive Officer for Africa Peer Review Mechanism, which we aim to conclude by June 2015, in time for the African Union Summit.
The absence of a permanent CEO has made it difficult to implement the APRM programme effectively and this has had a negative impact on the secretariat's ability to collect member contributions.
It is reported that, the APRM does not have enough funds to last for the year. The situation is dire and as South Africa we have an obligation to make sure that we do not allow the situation to deteriorate any further. There is a role for the Portfolio Committee, through the Pan African Parliament, to support our efforts that are aimed at strengthening the APRM mechanisms for the sake of the continent.
On our part, we will make sure that this matter is escalated to the Heads of State Summit in June so that a lasting solution is found.
Honourable House Chairperson, on a positive note, allow me to congratulate former Minister, Ms Bridget Mabandla, for her appointment to the Africa Peer Review Panel of Eminent Persons.
In conclusion, Honourable House Chairperson, I wish to thank the following for their role in making the MPSA a success:
Honourable Chairperson, we shall continue to pay homage to the late Minister Collins Chabane, and former Mayor of Vryburg Mme Ruth Mompati through our collective efforts towards building a public service that serves our people with humility and selflessness. We shall endeavour to give true meaning to the slogan "the people shall govern"
I thank you