SPEECHES: Remarks by the Director-General of the Department of Public Service and Administration Mr Mashwahle Diphofa at the launch of Public Service Month 2016, Mittah Seperepere Convention Centre, Sol Plaatjie Local Municipality, Kimberley, Northern Cape Province

Date: 2 Sep 2016

Honourable Premier Sylvia Lucas;

Members of the Executive Council;

Mayor of Sol Plaatjie Local Municipality and Councillors;

Director-General of the Province;

Heads of Departments and Senior Managers present;

Our esteemed guests - the Public Servants!

Ladies and Gentlemen

It is a great pleasure to be here in Sol Plaatjie Local Municipality to launch the 2016 Public Service Month (PSM) which is celebrated under the theme, “Together Moving the Public Service Forward: We Belong, We Care, We Serve.”

As we meet today to launch this year’s Public Service Month, please allow me to convey a very simple but critical message to you. That message is: Stand up and be counted!

Ladies and gentlemen, Public Service Month has evolved over the years from what was initially a week-long campaign which was called Public Service Week, and which was coincided with the annual Africa Public Service Day celebrations on 23 June. Having realised the critical role of the public service in delivering services to communities, the period of the campaign was extended to a month and also moved to September.

In the Public Service this month is about celebrating the value and virtue of service to the community. It is also about celebrating those public servants envisaged in the Batho Pele principles. Stand up and be counted among these public servants!

Public servants who ensure that stakeholders are consulted on the services being provided to determine their needs and expectations;

Public servants who ensure that they perform according to clear service standards which have also been communicated to citizens;

Public servants who ensure that citizens are treated with courtesy and consideration;

Public servants who ensure that citizens have access to the services to which they are entitled;

Public Servants who ensure that citizens are given full, accurate information about the public services they are entitled to receive;

Public servants who ensure that there is openness and transparency in the manner in which services are provided;

Public Servants who ensure that there is redress where standards and expectations may not have been met;

Public servants who ensure that services are provided economically and efficiently to give citizens the best possible value for money;

To all of us gathered here today, and to the rest of our colleagues out there, Stand up and be counted among these public servants.

We all recall that the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, which was adopted 20 years ago, gave guidance on the establishment of the Public Service and how it should be governed.

Section 197 of the Constitution, stipulates that, within the public administration, there is a Public Service for the Republic (of South Africa), which must function and be structured, in terms of national legislation, and which must loyally execute terms of national legislation, and which must loyally execute the lawful policies of the government of the day.

As we celebrate Public Service Month, as Public Servants, it is important to ask ourselves: as the current crop of public servants, are we living to these values and principles of a Public Service as enshrined in the Constitution? When future generations and scholars of public administration reflect on the history of public service, will they positively note that, as the custodian of Public Service in the country, we lived up to this constitutional mandate?

Ladies and Gentlemen:

The National Development Plan (NDP) highlights the need for well-run and effectively coordinated state institutions with skilled public servants who are committed to the public good and are capable of delivering consistently high-quality services, while prioritising the nation’s developmental objectives. Public servants are therefore, the change agents, enablers and facilitators of integrated good governance and public administration towards Vision 2030.

Reflections on the 2015 Public Service Month

Allow me to reflect on the 2015 Public Service Month which identified the following matters as needing attention:

  • Strengthening and demonstration of the deeper understanding and internalising of the Batho Pele principles and the Belief set “We Belong, We Care, We Serve”.

    This has called for the review and the strengthening of the Batho Pele Principles by developing standards that will be uniformly applied across the Public Service. In this regard, a process that has been initiated with six sampled national departments, namely: Labour, Health, Basic Education, Transport, Social Development and Human Settlements. This Month we will also be promoting and putting a spotlight on two Batho Pele Principles per week.

    • The need for skilled, competent, knowledgeable, capable and disciplined public servants who put “People First.”

    The ability to understand and deliver on government’s priorities calls for the strengthening of a working relationship between our training academies Human Resource Development units. These should be supported by sound recruitment and selected processes as well as a meaningful implementation of performance management and development.

    • The need for mainstreaming and popularising of the Public Service Charter (2013) that should be used as a referral guide to demonstrate commitment, courteous attitude, helpfulness with reasonable and accessible quality services at all times.

The Public Service Regulations, 2016, Chapter 4, Part 3 (Section 54) gives the powers to the Heads of Department to introduce appropriate measures for the institutionalisation of the Public Service Charter in their departments. It is intended that this will contribute to public servants maintaining acceptable levels of professionalism towards citizens when providing services. In addition, the same Regulations further direct Heads of Departments to establish and maintain a safe and healthy work environment for employees of the department and a safe and healthy service delivery environment for members of the public.

Mainstreaming and the popularising of the Public Service Charter should be used as a referral guide to demonstrate commitment, courteous attitude, helpfulness with reasonable and accessible quality services at all times. This calls for a structured and well-coordinated process where there is proper reporting and accountability on the efforts made in promoting the provisions of the Service Charter and changed behaviour is reported on as intervention programmes to guard against unethical behaviour by public servants is done.

The use of the KHAEDU SMS deployment programme is to be done in an effective way that will ensure that a root-cause analysis during the diagnostic phase of the non-functioning and poorly performing institutions is done which should be followed up with implementation, monitoring, reporting and evaluation plans over every five-year term.

As a result of the aforesaid, departments are expected to develop plans and schedules that will ensure that heads of institutions, heads of departments both at provincial and national level, account on the progress made in response to the recommendations and commitments made through an implementation plan that has been agreed upon by all parties. This process will support the Service Delivery Improvement Planning (SDIP) and Implementation process that has been identified to be a serious challenge in the SDIP reports.

Ladies and Gentlemen

Since 2013, the Public Service Month has been a precursor to the National Batho Pele Excellence Awards (NBPEA), which take place in November every year. The purpose of the annual NBPEA is, therefore, to entrench the transformation and professionalisation of the Public Service. Rewarding excellent service delivery and recognising the contribution by public servants across Government will add to the drive towards service delivery improvement.

I need not remind you that the Awards represent a serious and committed move towards transforming and professionalising the Public Service, improving service delivery as well as putting into operation the ideas towards building a capable state, as enunciated in the National Development Plan (NDP). The NDP complements the Constitutional imperative to create a public administration that is professional, responsive, capable and responsible.

Not only should the Awards be viewed as an opportunity to win a prize but as a challenge to public servants to come up with innovative ways to improve service delivery.

It is an open secret that the economy of our country is not growing as expected and this has put serious strain on national fiscal, hence the austerity measures introduced by the government. However, passionate public servants should use this economic challenge to come up with interventions and programmes which promote innovation in the Public Service.

In conclusion Allow me to stress that Public Service Month should continuously serve not only to celebrate public servants but also as a renewal of commitment by public servants to serve the citizens of our country with utmost dedication and professionalism.

We therefore call upon on public servants to remain committed to serving communities beyond the Public Service Month - let it be a daily programme of action of delivering services to our people.

When we do this, we can proudly pronounce that indeed – We Belong, We Care, We Serve

Ladies and gentlemen, Stand Up and be Counted!

I thank you.

For further Media enquiries contact: Dumisani Nkwamba: 082 885 9448 /dumisaniN@dpsa.gov.za

Issued by the Department of Public Service and Administration

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