Directors-General and Heads of Department,
All Public Representatives,
Senior Managers in the Public Service,
Representatives from Donor Organizations and Development Partners,
Representatives from the Media and the Academia,
Ladies and Gentlemen:
On behalf of the Minister for the Public Service and Administration, I am indeed honoured and very pleased to be with you today as we participate in this important event launching the 2015 Public Service Month.
Not only is this event significant in the sense of celebrating the public service that must take government performance to a qualitatively higher trajectory, but equally, it is a significant event because of the achievements made thus far in making services accessible to our citizens.
Ladies and Gentlemen, although we are launching the 2015 Public Service Month today, the programmes and activities have commenced on 1 September 2015 and will culminate in with the Sports and Employee wellness activities in the first week of October 2015 which will be organized in partnership with the Department of Sport and Recreation.
Let me indicate that Public Service Month affords us an opportunity to celebrate and reflect on our performance as public officials as well as make an assessment of the services we render to the general public.
The theme for this year's Public Service Month is "Moving South Africa Forward; Taking services to the people". In line with this theme, senior managers in the public service will be deployed to frontline service points to identify service delivery bottlenecks and implement the interventions that are needed.
When South Africa made a transition to a democratic state 21 years ago, it was inevitable that the public service would also have to adjust to the new political landscape. It was in 1997 that government formerly adopted the Batho Pele Principles to serve as an instrument of changing the way public services are delivered to citizens in line with the spirit of Section 195 of our Constitution.
I need hardly stress the importance of such a development in the early stages of our democratic transition, when public servants largely served along racial and ethnic lines. In our democracy, one of the prime duties of the state is to ensure a realisation to the rights of its citizens, not only to guarantee their freedoms through the carefully structured relations among the different institutions, but also, to advance their rights and opportunities through, among others, access to services.
It is therefore paramount that we acknowledge the major strides that have been made since the 1994 democratic dispensation towards building an effective, efficient and development oriented public service and an empowered and inclusive citizenship. In the same breath, it is equally important to acknowledge the reality that we still have service delivery gaps in a number of areas.
As you are aware in 2013, government, together with organised labour, adopted the Service Charter which pledges a public service that is professional, efficient and effective. This is a very critical intervention for ensuring that service delivery is optimized, and as we launch the 2015 Public Service Month, we need to ask ourselves if we have done enough to implement the Charter.
Similarly, we need to do a thorough introspection on how far we have gone to ensure that there is compliance to Batho Pele Principles. Are we living and working to the expectations of the Batho Pele Principles? Do we apply the Batho Pele Principles in our daily interactions with fellow colleagues and members of the public? In short, does our approach to our work truly demonstrate that we belong, we serve, we care?
Ladies and Gentlemen, We want to take this opportunity to remind all present that the DPSA, during last year's Public Service Month, conducted public service wide meetings on the theme, "Reinventing the way Public Servants work." Consultations were conducted with an average of 350 frontline public servants in eight provinces th West). These consultations provided a unique opportunity for the Minister for the Public Service and Administration, the Deputy Minister, Premiers, Mayors, Councillors, Directors-General, Heads of Department and frontline officials to engage frankly on critical issues relating to service delivery.
Overall, the frontline staff we spoke to are committed to the public service. However, they made a number of proposals on how they can be even more productive in their work. Among other things, they spoke about the provision of the necessary tools of trade, the need to ensure ongoing and proper maintenance of infrastructure in their work environments, the effective implementation of performance management and development processes, and the strengthening of employee health and wellness interventions, among others. Many of these are well within the control of senior managers, and it should therefore be possible for them to address them.
A message that we consistently shared with them is that whatever the circumstances that they are facing, it is not acceptable for a public service to be rude to members of the public.
Ladies and Gentlemen, as public servants, our commitment to action through the Public Service Month therefore goes beyond the month of September to a year-long programme of action on taking the public service to the people.
The Public Service Month also serves as a precursor to the National Batho Pele Excellence Awards (NBPEA) which are held during the month of November. The Awards will be going into their third year since they were launched in November 2013 under the theme, "Batho Pele - Putting People First."
The Awards promote a sharing of best practices, and recognise good performance. The nomination process is open and will be closing on 30 September 2015. As such, I encourage public servants to nominate their colleagues who, through their actions are living up to the expectations of Batho Pele Principles and the Service Charter.
In conclusion, as public servants, let us go out in numbers with a positive attitude to work with our communities. Let us go all out to popularise and mainstream the Batho Pele Programme of taking services to the people, empowering citizens about their rights and responsibilities, and deploying senior managers to deal with the real problems that affect real people on the ground.
Let us continue to live by the Batho Pele value statement - We Belong, We Care, We Serve.
I thank you.