SPEECHES

Remarks by the Minister for the Public Service and Administration Ms Faith Muthambi, MP, on the occasion of closing ceremony for the Thusong service centre week at Casteel Thusong Service Centre, Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga province

Date: 22 Sep 2017

Premier of Mpumalanga Province (Or his Representative);

Members of the Executive Council present;

Leaders of all spheres of Government;

Traditional Leaders;

Directors-Generals and;

All Public Servants;

Esteemed guests;

Ladies and gentlemen;

I am very happy to be part of this important event which is concluding this year’s Annual Thusong Service Centre Week, here at the Casteel Thusong Service Centre. This week, which also coincide with the Public Service Month, is a very important period in the events calendar of our Government.

It is a period wherein as Government we seek to promote the Thusong Service Centre brand and image to communities and potential partners.

It is also a period where we monitor and evaluate the quality of service that our people are receiving from various state institutions.

The activities of this week has also helped us to reaffirm the Constitution as the cornerstone of the country’s democracy, and an instrument for development and transformation, by mobilising collective ownership and promotion of the principles enshrined in the Constitution, and thereby building social cohesion and strengthening national identity.

Compatriots;

As you will be aware, this year marks the centenary of the birth of one of South Africa’s iconic leaders, Cde Oliver Reginald Tambo. Cde OR Tambo is considered the father of our liberation, and his ideals of Patriotism, Integrity, Humility and Passion still inspire the nation today. South Africa has declared 2017 as the Year of OR Tambo.

A year where we should continue walking in the footsteps of this outstanding struggle icon, and dedicate ourselves anew into improving the lives of our people and put them first as we render services.

All of us are urged to follow the exemplary life of Cde OR Tambo, by dedicating our lives to the service of others, more especially the poor and the marginalised.

You will also be aware that September is Public Service Month; a month where we celebrate and embrace the Batho Pele Principles by trying to instil, and rebuild good ethics, morale, pride, and professionalism in the manner in which public servants do their work, while following the expectations as spelled out in the Service charter.

We want Public Servants to be happily committed to their work so that they can serve our communities with care and dignity.

The theme for the 2017 Public Service Month is “Together Moving the Public Service Forward; we belong (to our communities), we care (for our communities), and we serve (our communities)”.

Programmes aimed at celebrating this important month are ongoing, and we have been encouraging public servants to embrace the “Batho Pele Principles”. Yesterday we were in Limpopo where we encouraged public servants to dedicate their lives to the service our people.

Premier and your Exco;

Our government strategic plan for 2014-2019 through the Medium Term Strategic Framework, has two over-arching themes, which are radical socio economic transformation, and improving service delivery.

Our leader, President Jacob Zuma is also on record saying that ‘radical economic transformation will take centre-stage’ during his final term of office. Now, as the Minister for the Public Service and Administration, I am also committed to implementing radical socio economic transformation through the public service.

Compatriots;

We gather here today to celebrate the annual Thusong Service Centre Week during this important year of OR Tambo, under the theme “Advancing small, medium, and micro enterprises”. This is a historic year, wherein our Government clearly declared that radical socio economic transformation should happen, and it should happen now.

As a caring Government, we have made an assessment of the progress that has been made since 1994. A lot has indeed been achieved through the political freedom which the masses of our people attained 23 years ago.

THUSONG SERVICES CENTRES:

Our Government has prioritised the delivery of quality services to all the People regardless of where they live. It is for this reason that the concept of Thusong Services Centres, (which started as Multi-Purpose Community Centres in 1999), was developed.

Our priority is to bring government information and services closer to the people, more especially those who were disadvantaged by the apartheid government.

Thusong Service Centres are expected to serve as a mechanism to achieve integrated service delivery in line with government’s vision of moving South Africa Forward. We do not want a fragmented service delivery system. We do not want our people to travel long distances to urban areas to access services.

One of the reasons we are here today, is to assess if this centre is indeed operating in line with the vision of our Government, of bringing all service closer to the people.

But in the meantime we also want understand the challenges that faces our people who are operating these Centres so that we can speedily bring solutions that will lead to a smooth functioning of these Centres.

Challenges such as lack of support by parent departments, lack of suitable office space, budgetary constraints, lack of training of officials, unavailability of equipment, Information Technology problems, and Security concerns, have been identified and we will be in action addressing them.

As Government will be working towards improving the overall management of the Thusong Service Centres. Challenges faced by the management and officials working at the Thusong Centre will be prioritised because these are people who are interacting with our communities on a daily basis.

Monitoring and Evaluation efforts will also be improve to ensure that the performance of this Centre and other centres is assessed in the same way that other institutions of Government are evaluated.

The three spheres of Government must work together to ensure the efficiency of Thusong Services Centres through integrated service delivery model. Our people must be able to access all Government services at a single point.

Fellow South Africans;

We live in an era of technology and we must embrace and it and utilise the opportunities that comes with technological advancement. Different departmental systems in the Thusong Services Centres should be linked to ensure that all relevant information of members of the community is available to all the service providers.

We are also assessing the availability of telecommunication infrastructure for the smooth delivery of communication and information technology in order to see if service delivery is not being compromised by lack of infrastructure.

Compatriots;

We have already agreed that the political freedom we attained should also lead to economic freedom. In this way all our people can be able to participate meaningfully in the formal economy of the country through owning important means of production.

It is for this reason that as the ANC led Government we decided to declare that 2017, which is also the year of OR Tambo, must be a year wherein we fast track the implementation of all the programmes that would support the course of radical socio economic transformation.

Our Government recognises the important role played by small, medium, and micro enterprises (SMMEs) in the economic development our country. We believe that SMMEs hold key to the much needed economic growth.

The National Development Plan (NDP), which is our country’s roadmap towards growth and prosperity has forecasted that in 2030, a large percentage of all new jobs will be in SMMEs.

It for this reason that as Government we decided to focus our energy on creating a conducive environment for SMMEs to thrive.

Compatriots;

Lack of information, lack of capital, and lack of support, has been identified as common factors that usually lead to failure of SMMEs. The Thusong Service Centres offers critical advice and support to small businesses, helping them to grow and thrive in the communities they serve.

Entrepreneurship is good for the economy and our government supports innovative start-ups and helps them grow, hence our theme “advancing small, medium, and micro enterprises”.

During this year’s Thusong Service Week, Government is partnering with Titan IT Centre of Excellence and the DigiConnect NGO to empower young people and SMME’s with digital skills needed to succeed in the modern economy. Through this partnership they aim to train young people to enable them to build businesses, create jobs and boost economic growth in the country.

Thusong Service Centres empower communities with the necessary skills and training to better their lives, through existing partnerships with government, parastatals and the private sector.

Government’s vision for Thusong Service Centre is to provide every South African citizen with access to information and services within their place of residence and in each local municipality.

There are currently 197 Thusong Service Centres countrywide out of which 138 are fully operational and functional. These centres are complemented by Mobile Thusong centres that take government services to remote areas where people would otherwise have to travel long distances to access them.

We want these centres to be well equipped with information and resources to help aspirant entrepreneurs. SMMEs should be able to access services that are relevant to their businesses from their nearest Thusong Services Centres.

Government has partnered with businesses and NGOs to provide young people with the required skills to thrive in a digital world. Through Digital Skills for Africa programme young people will be equipped with the right skills to establish businesses, create jobs and boost economic growth.

The programme is in line with government’s plan to build a modern, dynamic and world-leading digital economy. This programme will be piloted in the Northern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal and rolled out to all provinces in phases as from 2018.

We call on young people to visit their nearest Thusong Centres to find out when they will be providing the digital training skills programme.

Compatriots;

We must emphasise that radical socio economic transformation is not about dispossessing anyone of their wealth. It is about integrating the previously disadvantaged into the mainstream economy of our country. It is about creating a bias towards the majority of our people, who are unable to reach their full economic potential because they do not have start-up capitals, nor relevant information to start businesses.

As we commemorate 40th anniversary of his brutal death, allow me to borrow from the words of one of our liberators Steven Bantu Biko, who said “The wealth of the country must eventually be enjoyed by people of the country”. Indeed radical socio economic transformation is about creating an environment where everybody’s potential to economically thrive can be fully realised.

We encourage our people to use the services of Government institutions, such as Thusong Service Centres and other institutions, to source information and other forms of support in order to establish and grow their businesses.

As Government we also urge community members who have common set of skills to come together and form co-operatives. Government is always willing to support community co-operatives.

Compatriots;

Because they are rooted in the communities, Thusong Service Centres must always be aware of the challenges that members of the community are facing. This will enable them to always come up with innovative solutions that are designed to improve the lives of their communities. This is in line with this year’s Public Service Month’s theme that says together moving the public service forward: We belong (to our communities), we care (for our communities), we serve (our communities).

Public servants must always put people first, which is in line with the Batho Pele Principles. Our people must not be made to wait for a long time without any official attending to them. There must be a queue management system at every service delivery point. There must also be suggestion boxes where people can engage their Government on how they think service delivery can be improved.

In conclusion

The Thusong Service Week encourages service providers within the Thusong centres to promote the Batho Pele principles when rendering services. I must however emphasise that the promotion and practicing of Batho Pele Principles must not end today as we wrap up activities for this week. The ethos of putting people first must be practiced every day and during all interactions with our people.

This is a caring Government of the people, by the people. We will continue to strive to bring services closer to the people.

I thank you

Amandla!


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