SPEECHES

Remarks by the Minister for the Public Service and Administration Ms Faith Muthambi, MP, on the occasion of engagement with public servants during public service month

Date: 21 Sep 2017

Members of the Executive Council present;

Executive Mayor of Capricorn District Municipality Cllr John Mpe;

Executive Mayor of Polokwane Municipality Cllr Thembi Nkadimeng;

All councilors from the District and local Municipalities

Senior Leaders of all spheres of Government;

Director-General of the DPSA;

Heads of all entities (CPSI, PSC, GEMS, NSG)

All Public Servants;

Members of the Media;

Ladies and gentlemen;

I am very pleased to be with you today as we participate in this important event in the name of Batho Pele – Putting people first.

We gather here today to re affirm our commitment to upholding the values and principles of public administration enshrined in Section 195 of the Constitution and other laws, policies and frameworks.

The month long celebration and commemoration of public service month provides an opportunity for the whole of government and citizens to make an assessment of the quality of services being rendered by Government.

Our constitution gives rise to a social contract between the Government and its people. Our is a constitution that came into being after years of selfless struggle led by among others, Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Steven Bantu Biko, and Oliver Reginald Tambo.( to name a few )

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 Tambo is considered the father of our liberation, and his ideals of Patriotism, Integrity, Humility and Passion still inspire the nation today. South Africa is marking 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.

Colleagues and Compatriots:

I want to stress the importance of striving for a professional, accountable and development-oriented public service. In a democracy, one of the prime duties of government is to respect and give realization to the rights of its citizens, not only to ensure their freedom, but also to advance their rights and opportunities through access to quality services.

To this end, our citizens require well-run and effectively coordinated state institutions with skilled public servants who are committed to serving the people with pride, professionalism and commitment. We have thus undertaken to engage with you with regard to the day-to-day challenges you are facing in order to build a harmonious working environment with the ultimate aim of rendering quality services to our citizens.

Today’s gathering is a clear indication that we are a caring government that is committed to work for a productive and stable public service. We all know that our government, declared September as Public Service Month with the view to remind us to be the champions of service delivery. Stand up and be counted among these public servants!

We acknowledge that as the employer, we need to make public servants happy so that they can also be fully dedicated to their task of making citizens happy. We are aware of the challenges that our public servants are facing. We also appreciate that public servants continuously raise issues which make them unhappy, and we are committed to resolving these issues.

I am aware of some of the matters that have been constantly raised by public servants, including matters you raised during your previous engagements with MPSA. I believe some of these issues are long overdue, and we can engage on them when we move forward with the programme.

Issues such as:

    • Structural and infrastructure challenges (where the buildings and facilities are no longer in good conditions).

    • Leadership and good governance.

    • Suitability of building structures to service provisions.

    • Human Resource Management and Development.

    • Enhanced integrated Service Delivery Access.

    • Challenges facing the Thusong Service Centres.

    • Issues relating to Occupational Specific Dispensation (OSD)

Engagements such as this one must never be a talk shop that does not yield positive results. I will be following up on what has been done to address these critical issues which were raised by public servants. All outstanding issues must be attended to so that we can a have happy public servants who will serve our people with pride.

It is our aim to be a government that is innovative and that promptly respond to the challenges of its workers.

Colleagues;

It is important that while there may be areas that needs to be improved from the employer’s side, public servants continue to do their best to make our citizens happy by offering them quality services.

We are marking the Public Service Month under theme: “Together Moving the Public Service Forward: We Belong, We care, we serve.”

Our government continues to emulate the leadership of Cde Tambo, who was a solution-orientated leader committed to move South Africa forward;

I, therefore on behalf of the whole of government urge you to derive joy through serving the masses of our people in the deep rural areas through our popular slogan: “We Belong to our people, We Care about our people, We Serve our people!

Colleagues;

As we celebrate this public service months, it is important that we once again commit ourselves to the service charter, which is one of the resolutions of the PSCBC.

Firstly, the service charter is a social contract, commitment and agreement between the state and public servants. Secondly, the Service Charter enables service beneficiaries to understand what they can expect from the state, and as such form the basis of engagement between government and citizens or organs of civil society.

As partners in this contract, we must work hard to ensure that the commitments we made in this contract are fulfilled for the benefit of the citizens.

As we carry out our commitments to the service charter, we must always be guided by the important Batho Pele Principles. Both the Batho Pele Principles and the Service charter must be publicized and popularised within us as public servants and representatives, and also within the communities we serve.

The service charter is an important tool which must be used by citizens to hold us as public servants and representatives accountable. It commits us to serve citizens promptly, courteously, and fairly.

I urge all of you to revisit this important contract.

Compatriots;

The National Development Plan further highlights the need for a skilled public service that is committed to the public good and capable of delivering consistently high-quality services, while prioritizing the nation’s developmental objectives. Our entities, The NSG, CPSI, PSC, continues to contribute to efforts of improving the skills capacity of our public servants. We want it to be “cool” and attaractive to work for Government so that our citizens can benefit from the expertise of the most skilled public servants.

Public servants are therefore, the change agents, enablers and facilitators of integrated good governance and public administration towards Vision 2030.

Colleagues and Compatriots:

It is worth noting that Public Service Month has evolved over the years from what was initially a week-long campaign, which was called Public Service Week, coinciding with Africa Public Service Day during the month of 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 moved to September.

Admittedly, In the Public Service, September 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.

Our government strategic plan for the 2014-2019 electoral terms, the MTSF, has two over-arching themes, which are radical economic transformation and improving service delivery. President Jacob Zuma is also on record saying that ‘radical economic transformation will take centre-stage’ during his last term of office. Now, as the Minister for the Public Service and Administration, I am also committed to implementing radical economic transformation through the public service.

The MTSF priority outcomes are quality basic education, health, safety, decent employment through inclusive growth, skilled and capable work force, an efficient, competitive, responsive economic infrastructure network, and vibrant, equitable, sustainable rural communities to ensure food security for all, quality housing, and responsive, accountable, effective and efficient local government.

The Budget Vote we delivered in May earlier this year seeks to address our radical socio economic transformation agenda in the longer term and it does adhere to our medium term aspirations as contained in the National Development Plan.

Accordingly, government needs to marshal all its resources towards improved efficiency and impact through integration of planning, implementation and monitoring.

Colleagues and Compatriots:

To all of us gathered here today, and to the rest of our colleagues out there, Stand up and be counted among those public servants who are committed to the principles of openness, honesty, integrity and accountability.

We all recall that the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, which was adopted 21 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, 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?

Chapter 10 of the Constitution requires that the public service must, amongst others, maintain and promote a high standard of professional ethics and be accountable. This is a clarion call to all public servants to conduct themselves in a professional and ethical manner when executing their responsibilities.

To further entrench professionalism in the public service, in August 2016 we approved the Public Service Regulations, 2016 in terms of which, all employees in the public service have the responsibility to comply with the prescribed Code of Conduct. The Code of Conduct is the main basis on which pro-active, corrective and disciplinary action rests and thus, yourselves, have an obligation to ensure that public servants are well informed about the provisions of the Code of Conduct.

With regard to a stable public service, as government we have committed to working together with organised labour in order to build a harmonious working relationship as this is crucial in benefiting service delivery to our citizens. We have undertaken to engage with organised labour in good faith and in cases where we reach agreements through structures such as the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC), we shall honour those agreements.

In cases where we disagree, we have committed as government not to unilaterally implement any decision on bargaining matters but we shall engage until we come to an amicable solution.

We need to work together with the various stakeholders to ensure that there is stability in the public service. We need to work for a productive and stable public service. As government, we have to collaborate with our labour partners and ensure that the public service machinery functions with the ultimate goal of delivering efficient services to the people. We will ensure that all stakeholders in the public service work with government to ensure that the public service machinery is functioning well.

I would like to conclude by also informing you that the Minister of Finance and I have established a team to address the structural adjustment challenges between the Middle Management Services (MMS) and Senior Management Service (SMS) members and developments on this matter shall be duly communicated.

Colleagues and Compatriots:

Our work in the public service is affirmed by our commitment to serving our people through Batho Pele Value Statement - We Belong (to our people), We Care (about our people), We Serve (our people).

I wish you a fruitful engagement with us here today.

I thank you.


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