SPEECHES: Remarks of the Minister for the Public Service and Administration Ms Faith Muthambi, MP, at the Public Service Commission Strategic Planning session, OR Tambo Building, Riotendale, City of Tshwane

Date: 4 May 2017

Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration, Dr Makhosi Khoza

Chairperson of the Public Service Commission, Advocate Richard Sizani

Deputy Chairperson of the Public Service Commission and fellow Commissioners

Chief Executive Officer of the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants, Dr Terence Nombembe

Esteemed guests

Senior Managers in Office of the Public Service Commission

We are not sure whether it was a conscious decision or merely a coincidence or just fate that, as the Public Service Commission, you chose to host your Strategic Planning Session here in OR Tambo building.

We are saying this because you are all aware that government has declared 2017 – "The Year of Oliver Reginald Tambo"- to mark centenary birth year of this legendary, erstwhile President of the African National Congress. As the Public Service Commission, you have set to align your Strategic Plan with the ideals of Cde Tambo and therefore, we do not expect you fail to deliver because he did not fail to deliver freedom to this country.

In his words, Cde Tambo said: "Working together as fellow South Africans, we have it within our power to transform this country into the land of plenty for all, where the nightmare of apartheid will just be a faint memory of the past." (close quote)

Therefore, as the Public Service Commission, the final strategic direction you adopt out of this session, should contribute to President Tambo’s vision of making South Africa a land of the plenty for all.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

When drafters of our Constitution were putting together this document which is the anchor of our democracy, they did take into cognisance the need to have an institution called Public Service Commission (PSC). The role and responsibilities of the Commission are set out in Section 196 of the Constitution and derives its mandate from Section 195.

The role of the PSC to perform oversight functions is sacrosanct. Therefore, the Commission is vested with custodial oversight responsibilities for the public service and monitors, evaluates and investigates public administration practices. It also has the power to issue directions regarding compliance with personnel procedures relating to recruitment, transfers, promotions and dismissals.

It should be emphasized that the Commission’s primary role is to promote "a high standard of professional ethics in the Public Service." It is required by the Constitution to exercise its powers and to perform its functions without fear, favour or prejudice. The Constitution links the PSC’s independence firmly with its impartiality and no organ of state may interfere with the functioning of the PSC.

The PSC has a responsibility to promote the values and principles governing public administration contained in Section 195 of the Constitution. The values and principles, amongst others, are:

    • a high standard of professional ethics must be promoted and maintained;

    • efficient, economic and effective use of resources must be promoted;

    • public administration must be development-oriented;

    • services must be provided impartially, fairly, equitable and without bias; and

    • people’s needs must be responded to; and

    • the public must be encouraged to participate in policy-making.

We are highlighting these values and principles so as to bring about the interface between the role of the PSC as well as other critical role players in the area of public administration and the public service.

As the PSC, we expect you to collaborate with the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) as the custodian of public service policies and regulations. We expect you to collaborate with the Department of Performance, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) as the lead department that facilitates effective planning, monitoring and evaluation of government programmes aimed at improving service delivery, outcomes and impact on society. We expect you to collaborate with the National School of Government (NSG) on its mandate to establish a capable, professional and responsive public sector that is committed to, and has institutionalised, the values and policies of a developmental state.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Allow us to briefly unpack how yourselves as the PSC can contribute to the ideal public service through collaboration with the government departments mentioned above.

As the PSC, you need to regularly engage with the DPSA as the latter is not only responsible for policies and regulations but it is also responsible for coordinating and reporting progress on the implementation of the Service Delivery Agreement for Outcome 12: An efficient, effective and development-oriented public service. As the PSC, you need not only "police" if the DPSA and the entire public service is complying with the relevant prescripts, you have a constitutional obligation to provide inputs on how efficiency can be achieved in the public service.

The same is applicable to your relationship with the DPME. When the fourth administration decided to establish a fully-fledged government department to focus on areas of monitoring and evaluation, one of the reasons was to improve efficiency and close the gaps that hinder service delivery. If, for instance, you as the PSC can utilise the reports of the Management Performance Assessment Tool (MPAT) as developed by the DPME, and incorporate them into your reporting system, we could integrate solutions to the service delivery gaps. Also, we could identify what needs to be done to, for instance, professionalise the public service.

Chairperson of the PSC:

As you integrate the work done by PSC with the one done by other government department, you would be able to engage with the National School of Government (NSG) to indicate what training interventions are needed. In this way, you would be strengthening the current system of curriculum development at the NSG because, based on your integrated reports, the type of training designed by the NSG will be addressing that particular inefficiency in the public service.

Through your collaboration with the NSG, you could identify how the induction of public servants can be tailor-made with a long term view of complying with a vision of making the public service an employer of choice. This will contribute to building a professional public service as envisaged in the National Development Plan (NDP).

It is not a secret that the public service is striving to achieve two targets, namely, attracting young people and also, achieving the 2% employment of people with disability.

Yourselves as the PSC, the DPSA and DPME as well as any relevant stakeholders, you need to be probing, conduct research and produce reports as to why government is not attaining these targets. Remember the kind of reports you produce, will assist the Executive Authorities to formulate policies which address the challenges identified.

Ultimately, the laws, policies, regulations and reports, should have a focus on how, as the public service, can we improve service delivery to our citizens. A well functioning and performance-driven public service will, without a doubt, contribute improved socio-economic conditions of our people.

Chairperson of PSC:

You need not limit your engagement with government departments because as the PSC, you view yourselves as an "independent" constitutional body. It cannot be that as an institution that was created through constitutional imperative, does not contribute positively to the development of this country.

In a recent ruling, the Constitutional Court clarified the functions of the PSC in relation to those of the Public Protector and the Auditor-General. The Court ruling held that the functions of the PSC are materially different to those of the Public Protector and the Auditor-General. They perform sensitive functions which require their independence and impartiality to be beyond question, and to be protected by stringent provisions in the Constitution.

Therefore, the Court stipulated the functions of the three institutions as follows:

    • The PSC's primary function is to promote a high standard of professional ethics in the Public Service. While it has important supervisory and watchdog functions, a good deal of its work will be of a routine or advisory nature.

    • Inherent in the functions of the Public Protector is the 'investigation of sensitive and potentially embarrassing affairs of government.

    • The Auditor-General has a crucial role in ensuring that there is openness, accountability and propriety in the use of public funds.

We ought to recognise that the PSC is not a policy-making institution, it conducts investigations, undertakes monitoring and evaluation, and provides advice and guidance in respect of policy development in the public service. Therefore, it plays an important advisory role in the policy-making process within public service.

In conclusion:

As you embark on this Strategic Planning Session, your deliberations should contribute towards firm decisions to come up with actionable plans which will take implementation of the Medium-Term Strategic Framework 2014 - 2019 and the radical socio-economic transformation to a higher level.

The public service must commit to ensuring that South Africa realises the goals of the NDP – Vision 2030 by drawing on the energies of its people, growing an inclusive economy, building capabilities, enhancing the capacity of the state, and promoting leadership and partnerships throughout society.

I wish you well in your deliberations and looks forward to the product of this Session.

I thank you.

*Having trouble viewing this site? Please make sure you are using Internet Explorer version 7 or later or Firefox version 3 or later.