A case for reflection on public servants to facilitate effective service delivery in a stable public service environment in South Africa.
My Public Servant (We belong, We care), My Future (we serve) is a campaign, driven by the Ministry for Public Service and Administration (MPSA), the purpose of which is to place public servants at the centre of delivering quality services to the citizens in line with the dictates of the Constitution of the Republic:
Every citizen has a legitimate expectation that the public service in all spheres and at all levels will render services commensurate with those espoused in the Constitution. As government we believe that public servants through whom services are rendered are a shared constituency between the State as employer on the one hand and a host of social partners, as stakeholders on the other. These stakeholders, all of whom are crucial both directly and indirectly in the delivery of public services include but are not limited to organized labour, academia, organized business, civil society formations, traditional leaders, religious formations, the public servants themselves and probably most importantly, ordinary citizens.
We contend that as a shared constituency, the approach by each of the social partners, should not be to enter into a contestation to win the hearts and minds of public servants at all costs, to the detriment of service delivery and well being of the citizenry, but rather to define or perhaps even redefine their roles, acknowledging that the government, through the MPSA on the one hand, is the employer of all employees in the public service, whilst on the other hand the public service unions in giving effect to section 23 of the Constitution, strive to organize these employees to form and/or join trade unions as members, and with the inherent duty to represent them on applicable aspects of individual and collective labour law (that is, on matters of rights and matters of mutual interests).
The African National Congress (ANC) during its 52nd National Conference resolved amongst others "to build the strategic, organizational and technical capacities of government with a view to a democratic developmental state, through building the human capacity of the state by establishing uniform and high entrance requirements and standards of employment in the public service, emphasizing professionalism, discipline and a commitment to serve"
The Minister is initiating this campaign to stimulate the debate on amongst others the government's recruitment, training and retention, induction and re-orientation strategy for serving employees on the one hand but with particular emphasis on a new cadre of employees entering the public service, in accordance with the guidelines provided in the White Paper on Transformation of the Public Service (WPTPS) that was adopted in November 1995.
The guidelines of the WPTPS focused on eight pillars to support the transformation process which include restructuring and rationalizing the public service; institution building and management; representativeness and affirmative action; transforming service delivery; enhancing accountability; human resource development and training; employment conditions and labour relations; and the promotion of a professional service ethos.
Inherent within the debate will also be a focus on the conditions of service for the public servants, the working environment in which these services are rendered and the tools of trade and how these impact on their ability to carry out their Constitutional duties of serving the people of this country.
The campaign places a moral responsibility on all social partners and especially on the public servants themselves to work cohesively to build a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society wherein future generations will inherit an improved public service that is capable of providing quality service to the people in the context of the duty to serve, the commitment to make a positive difference and without expecting any material rewards from the beneficiaries of public services.
A public servant should be a cadre that is patriotic, passionate about his country and its ideals of a developmental state, committed to service and that cares about the wellbeing of ordinary South Africans (its clients), the masses of whom have been languishing at the periphery of the much desired relief that basic government services and improved social spending will bring. In support of this cadre, the public service must strive to be an employer of choice; an employer that is above reproach, that shuns corruption, opportunism, favouritism, nepotism and all forms of maladministration and incompetence and where these occur, deals with them in a manner that upholds good governance, protects and provides reassurance to the whistle-blowers, creates certainty and engenders confidence and trust in the institutions of the State.
At the heart of the public service must be a public servant that upholds the African Association for Public Administration and Management (AAPAM's) slogan: 'to none shall we deny a service, to none shall we delay a service'; a public servant that upholds the eight Batho Pele principles as articulated in the White Paper on Transforming Public Service Delivery adopted in September 1997; a public servant that has earned the respect of his or her peers and who strives at all times to make a tangible difference to the quality of life of the citizens.
This campaign is underpinned by a project championed by the Minister to reposition the public service to deliver on ideals of a developmental state. The project is going to focus on the five pillars that are core to efficient and effective service delivery: