SPEECHES: Budget Vote Speech by the Minister for the Public Service and Administration, Mr Senzo Mchunu, MP, Debate on Vote 10 – Public Service and Administration, E249 Chamber, Parliament, Cape Town

Date: 11 Jul 2019

Honourable House Chairperson;

Honourable Deputy Minister for the Public Service and Administration; Ms Chikunga

Honourable Chairperson and members of the Portfolio Committee,

Members of Parliament

Chairpersons of the Public Service Commission and GEMS;

Government Employees Housing Scheme Advisory Council members;

Directors-General and all Senior Executives;

Business partners and sponsors of our Presidential events;

Esteemed Guests;

Ladies and Gentlemen;

It is indeed a great honour to be in this august House to present the Budget Vote of the Department of the Public Service and Administration. Chapter 10 (Section 195 and 197) of the Constitution of the Republic mandate us to establish the Public Service Administration, with the latter, inter alia, stating that ‘within public administration there is a public service for the Republic, which must function, and be structured, in terms of national legislation, and which must loyally execute the lawful policies of the government of the day.’

The Public Service Act, 1994 and Public Administration Management Act 11 of 2014 (PAMA) promote basic (norms and standards), values and principles respectively, governing Public Administration in the Republic. We are obligated to be governed by principles which, amongst others, require our country to have public administration that is development-oriented, that is accountable and that promotes efficient, economic and effective use of resources.

The Public Service Act of 1994 mandates us to be responsible for:

    • establishing norms and standards relating to, among others, the functions of the Public Service;

    • the organisational structures and establishments of departments and other organisational and governance arrangements in the Public Service;

    • the conditions of service and other employment practices for employees;

    • labour relations in the Public Service;

    • health and wellness of employees;

    • information management in the Public Service;

    • electronic government;

    • integrity, ethics, conduct an anti-corruption programme in the Public Service; and

    • transformation, reform, innovation and any other matter to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the Public Service and its service delivery to the public.

The enabling tool for this is the PAMA, which provides the Minister of Public Service and Administration with the authority to establish a uniform system of public administration in all the three spheres of government. This is to promote and further entrench the values and principles governing the public administration in Section 195 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. The Ministry has four key components, namely DPSA, Public Service Commission, National School of Government and Centre for Public Service Information.

House Chairperson

It is fair at this stage to make reference to the seven priorities that President Ramaphosa outlined in the State of the Nation Address, which are:

    • Economic transformation

    • Education, skills and health

    • Consolidating the social wage through reliable and quality basic services

    • Spatial integration, human settlements and local government

    • Social cohesion and safe communities

    • A capable, ethical and developmental state

    • A better Africa and the World

The most relevant to us is consolidating the Social Wage through reliable and quality basic services; a capable, ethical and developmental State; a better Africa and the World and Education; Skills and Health. All these are in line with the goals of the National Developmental Plan (NDP), which points to the need for a developmental state.

The NDP clearly states that our country needs to follow a model of a developmental state. However, the NDP also recognises that not all capable states are developmental and so emphasises the importance of building a capable and developmental state within a vibrant democratic system.

Delivering the State of the Nation Address, President Cyril Ramaphosa stipulated clearly what the Sixth Administration sets out to achieve in terms of the Public Service, when he stated:

“This is the start of a wider process of arresting the decline in State capacity and restructuring our model of service delivery so it best serves our citizens. We will build on the work we have already begun to address problems of poor governance, inefficiency and financial sustainability. We are committed to building an ethical State in which there is no place for corruption, patronage, rent-seeking and plundering of public money. We want a corps of skilled and professional public servants of the highest moral standards – and dedicated to the public good.”

This is our vision. Indeed we are committed as a Public Service and, in turn, commit Public Servants collectively and as individuals to be accountable and responsive to the public they serve, especially so because every Public Servant is basically equipped with basic tools of trade.

25 years of democracy

House Chairperson

This year we mark 25 years since the dawn of a democratic dispensation in our country. Although much has been achieved there is still a lot to be done. Reflecting on the 25 years of the Public Service, we can note significant developments, most notably:

  • The integration of the former so-called self-governing states and Bantustans into a unified Public Service was a huge task, but it was successfully carried out;

  • Prior to 1994, the frameworks governing the Public Service were highly centralised, highly regulated and this made the then Public Service lack accountability and transparency. Over the past 25 years we worked hard to modernise the Public Service, to make it efficient, accountable and put mechanisms to make it corruption-free.

  • The 1997 White Paper on Transforming Public Service Delivery – commonly known as Batho Pele White Paper – focused on making sure that at the heart of service delivery, the Public Service should put our People First.

  • A number of Regulations have been developed and the Public Service Act amended to ensure that the Public Service is professional, representative and is at the forefront of fighting corruption. This process led to establishment of professional services within the Public Service such as the Senior Management Service (SMS) and Middle Management Service (MMS).

  • In 2005, government registered the Government Employees Medical Scheme (GEMS), which became operational in January 2006. Through GEMS, many Public Servants who could not afford membership of traditional medical aid scheme, are covered including their beneficiaries. As at 31 December 2018, GEMS had seven hundred thousand (700 000) principal members and covers over 1.8 million beneficiaries. This makes GEMS the second largest medical scheme in the country and the largest restricted medical scheme.

  • In addressing the importance of home ownership in the country, the public service, as an employer, is facilitating home ownership for all qualifying employees through an evolving housing schemes.

  • We participated in the establishment of Peer Review Mechanism in Africa, which entails co-operation by a number of African states and promoting good governance.

Priorities

We have identified five key priorities within DPSA that we are going to focus on in the next five years, particularly in the first year. These priorities are resistant fault lines, full implementation of PAMA, achieving higher levels of stability in the Public Service, fighting corruption and policy implementation.

Our budget is the smallest and we intend keeping it that way. Over and above the wage bill, we intend curtailing overall costs of running the public administration. We will also, for an example, wage a war against litigation of State institutions and departments.

Resistant fault lines

Our challenges include none or half-hearted compliance with Batho Pele Principles, which are Consultation, Service Standards, Access, Courtesy, Information, Openness and Transparency, Redress and Value for Money. We are committing to make drastic improvements in this regard, among others, by ensuring that Public Servants are not only aware of these Principles, but they live them, through practice. Secondly, the public perception is that the Public Service still habours elements of laziness, arrogance, lack of innovation and non-responsiveness. The phrase ‘pillar to post’ is dominant in the public discourse as characterising the Public Service.

Full implementation of PAMA

The precursor to PAMA is a whole discussion at various levels around the need for a Single Public Service. These include the Resolutions of the governing party in Mangaung in 2012. However, this process was not completed through the passing of any Bill. The processes were overtaken by the promulgation of PAMA, which promotes values and principles governing public administration, among which are the following:

    • 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, equitably and without bias;

    • People’s needs must be responded to, and the public must be encouraged to participate in policy-making; and

    • Public administration must be accountable.

It is our intention to move ahead and implement PAMA in full, specifically to apply all basic principles and values governing public service across all the three spheres of government and in State-owned enterprises. The NDP directs us to establish the Administrative Head of Public Service and Office of Standards. We are committed to this and we should complete this process within a year as the President directed, if not much earlier.

Achieving higher levels of stability in the Public Service

As a caring government, this week we implemented the cost of living adjustment for the Senior Management Service (SMS) members. We took cognisance of the burgeoning wage bill below the SMS level, the need to maintain the integrity of the salary structure and the potential low morale of the SMS members and to this effect, the Minister of Finance and myself agreed to effect a 5.2 percent salary adjustment, in line with the CPI.

We intend promoting good relations with public sector unions because we see them as strategic partners in achieving objectives of the Public Service. One of our goals this term is to engage unions and civil servants around a single determinant on salary increments. The current dispensation has achieved some unintended consequences. The perception of the public around instability in the form of strikes is that government and unions are failing to manage their differences as employer and employees.

We applaud the last round of negotiations, which resulted in the PSCBC Resolution 1 of 2018: Agreement on the salary adjustments and improvements on conditions of service in the Public Service until 2021. However, beyond three-year cycles, we need to look for a tool that will extend such harmony on an ongoing basis. If we cannot achieve this, disagreements that spill over schools, hospitals and other critical public institutions, often cause huge damage to public confidence in government and affect millions of school children, patients and have adverse effects on the functioning of public institutions. In some cases it has resulted to loss of lives.

We are in the process of playing our role as Public Service and Administration in the reconfiguration of government and with the urgent need to reach completion by the end of the year. I want to assure this House that the process will be handled in a responsible manner without any disruption to delivery of services to the people.

Honourable members

The reality is that the Public Service is not bloated in size, but the wage bill and overall cost to run Public Service is. The information shared below corroborate my statement, although this means we still need to work hard to ensure that we bring the wage bill to acceptable levels.

    CountryPercentageRatio
    Ethiopia0,81: 125
    Indonesia1,81: 55,6
    Morocco2,71: 37
    South Africa31: 33,3
    Japan3,71: 27
    Poland4,41: 22,7
    Brazil5,11: 19,6
    Germany5,31: 18,9
    Botswana6,11: 16,4
    Ireland7,41: 13,5
    France9,81: 10,2
    Russia10,21: 9,8

It is also important to note that two thirds of the Public Service is made up of essential services employees such as teachers, nurses and police officers, contributing to the escalating wage bill.

Fighting corruption

A great revolutionary from Argentina by the name of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, once said:

‘If you tremble with indignation at every injustice, then you are a comrade of mine.’

To borrow from him, I believe that if you tremble at every act of corruption, dishonesty and lies, then you are a Public Servant.

Public Servants stand at the door that separates clean governance from corruption. They keep the door closed, no corruption. They open the door, corruption sets in and they fail the nation that pays them. A lot of work has been done to position the Department and Government as a whole to fighting corruption effectively. This includes a host of regulations, among them, the establishment of National Anti-Corruption Hotline.

My predecessor had committed the Department to strengthening the management of the Hotline, which is on course. We are also on the second cycle of the revamped Financial Disclosure Framework. We are committing to supporting and promoting all these mechanisms. Over and above this, we continue with the work of establishing a full-fledged Public Administration Ethics Integrity and Disciplinary Technical Assistance Unit, including finalisation of its location in the Department’s organogram.

The scourge of corruption and the perception thereof have been consolidated by allegations and revelations at the State Capture Commission, the Zondo Commission. The public is united that if these allegations turn out to be true, work does not end with follow up processes like criminal prosecutions, but we have to properly analyse the extent to which corruption has entrenched itself in the Public Service and among South Africans generally as a sub-culture and find ways of turning it around. Honesty, transparency and the anti-corruption culture should be protected and promoted, if not rewarded.

The issue of discipline management in the Public Service is not only a challenge but also costs government a lot of money. To demonstrate this fact, the following figures were reported to the DPSA in terms of discipline management:

    • Precautionary suspensions received from national departments as at 31 December 2018, indicate that there were 444 cases reported. Out of this number, 182 cases were finalised, 262 cases were pending and the total cost of these precautionary suspensions is 65 million rands.

    • Precautionary suspensions received from provincial departments as at 31 December 2018, indicate that there were 457 cases reported. Out of this number, 162 cases were finalised, 295 cases were pending and the total cost of these precautionary suspensions is 72 million rands.

In terms of misconduct, the following was reported:

    • National departments as at 31 December 2018, there were 1 819 cases reported, 656 were finalised, 501 were finalised within the 90-day period, 155 were finalised outside the 90-day period whereas 1 163 cases were pending.

    • Provincial departments as at 31 March 2019, there were 3 942 cases reported, 2 432 were finalised, 2 334 were finalised within the 90-day period, 93 were finalised outside the 90-day period whereas 1 510 cases were pending. (Minister requires clarity on these figures).

These figures are of a grave concern, but we will continue to apply discipline management to ensure that we operate with a professional Public Service that complies with the relevant policies and regulations.

Policy implementation

Key elements on policy implementation are understanding policy, policy development, refinement of policy and final implementation itself. This is distinct science that we have not gone into in the past, hence an ongoing concern about implementation of policy. We are going to engage and develop mechanisms of upskilling Public Servants on these aspects, strengthening existing programmes and improving efficiencies across the Public Service. The National School of Government will play a key role in this regard and the Deputy Minister will give details in that aspect.

Early Retirement of Public servants

House Chairperson

We have opened an opportunity for public servants who prefer to go on early retirement without penalties, to do so in terms of Section 16 (6) of the Public Service Act. This in an effort to offer long-serving employees who feel they have contributed to the State and would like to exit the service, but are bound by hefty penalties that are incurred through this process. Within the Public Service, we also have employees who are no longer well and are waiting for the approval of their medical boarding and have to report for duty in the process as the process of medical boarding is a rigorous one. For the well-being of these employees, this option will also help them a great deal. This will also afford government an opportunity to attract new blood into the system that will bring innovative ideas and help in fast-tracking service delivery, thus providing job opportunities for young cadre of employees.

The early retirement option has been available since April 1, 2019 and the window closes on September 30, 2019 and no employee has been coerced to take it. It has also been discussed with employees and public sector unions and the response we are receiving is positive. Once the window closes, the Department will then be in a position to assess as to how many employees have taken advantage of the offer and how much impact it will have on the fiscus, in terms of cost-cutting measures.

Other cost cutting measures across the public space include the following:

    • Phasing out of some public entities as part of reconfiguration of Government; and

    • Reviewing the implementation of the Policy and Procedure on Incapacity Leave and Ill-health Retirement (PILIR)

We have a challenge with over indebtedness of our employees and we will be working with National Treasury and other relevant bodies to ensure that we assist Public Servants to manage their finances better. If we do not do that, we are running a risk of having employees who are prone to engaging in corruption or are unproductive due to stress levels as a result of their over indebtedness, leading to a deficit of trust between Public Servants and their number one clients, the public.

New Dispensation to Determine Payment of Bonuses

The dwindling fiscus has necessitated that government reviews how it can operate with the bare resources at its disposal. Part of this review is the Reconfiguration of government, as announced by the President. The Reconfiguration process will not only affect government departments, but even Executive Authorities. We are also moving towards a decremental approach to the complete reduction of bonuses in the public service from 1.5% to 0% by 2022 and the implementation of a new dispensation thereafter.

The Ministerial Handbook

House Chairperson

The Guide on Executive Members - previously referred to as the Ministerial Handbook – has been released. The Guide is an old/new document. This document provides a guide for benefits for Members of the Executive. It also seeks to provide administrative and support assistance to a Member in ensuring good governance with due regard to cost effectiveness and efficiency.

The Guide has been a subject of review for some years and it has been released to guide Ministers as they start their work for the term. However, there are areas that are a concern and therefore receiving our attention. The President has assigned three Ministers, of Public Service and Administration, Finance and Public Works and Infrastructure to deal with the areas identified, namely upper limit on purchasing of cars, tariffs on private vehicles and security upgrades. There may be other issues that the three Ministers will look at. We will be able to complete the task in two months and report back to Cabinet.

Configuration of the Department of Public Service and Administration

As the Minister for the Public Service and Administration, I am leading by example in a quest to stabilise both the Department and the public service at large. I have instructed management to present to me a proposed macro-structure for the Department of Public Service and Administration by tomorrow, 12 July 2019, with a view to contributing to the broader reconfiguration process of Government. Within the 6th Administration, we will microscopically be looking at the configuration of the Machinery of Government, including SOEs with the view of effectively delivering service to our people as well as ensuring efficiency gains from this process.

Indeed, the President was correct in his assertion in the 1.3 million-strong employees in the Public Service we require a ‘corps of skilled and professional Public Servants of the highest moral standards and dedicated to the Public Service.’

Providing employment opportunities for the youth

President Ramaphosa stated that the unemployment rate among young South Africans is a national crisis that demands urgent, innovative and coordinated solutions. As more young people are entering the labour force every year, the economy needs to create far more jobs for youth than it currently does merely to keep the youth unemployment rate steady.

Taking into cognisance this national crisis, the Public Service is intervening by removing experience requirements for entry level posts. By working together, this initiative will assist to curb the high levels of unemployment confronting our youth. At this juncture, let me take this opportunity to welcome students of public administration from different institutions of higher learning who have joined us today, who are in the gallery.

The Directive was guided by the following strategic considerations:

    • Alleviation of high levels of unemployment, especially among South African youth;

    • Removal of unnecessary barriers to entry into the public service; and

    • Promotion of skills development and empowerment of new recruits in the Public Service.

This intervention would ensure the achievement of the following goals of government:

    • a shift from an isolated training initiative to a long-term approach that focuses on recruiting people with relevant aptitude and developing their skills over the course of their careers within the Public Service;

    • the supply of skills in each department is more directly managed so as to enable the Public Service to maintain a sufficient and capable skills base. Each government department will undertake initiatives and agreements that facilitate a continuous availability of talent to undertake the responsibilities of the respective departments; and

    • the Public Service supporting government’s efforts in addressing the challenge of the high rate of youth unemployment in the country.

Implementing ICT Governance

President Ramaphosa further stated during the State of the Nation Address that as South Africa, we want a high-tech economy. In response, to drive electronic government, the Department of Public Service and Administration analysed information and Communication Technology audit information and found the following:

    • Inadequate governance of ICT by government departments;

    • Poor co-ordination of investment in Cloud-based technology and service;

    • Ageing ICT infrastructure, compromising service delivery; and

    • Inadequate management of ICT-related risks

Going forward and in addressing the above issues, the DPSA will continue to work with the Auditor-General of South Africa in prioritising areas needing urgent intervention. This year, we will finalise the following:

    • The review of the corporate governance of ICT Policy Framework

    • The development of Information Security Standards; and

    • the Cloud Policy

In collaboration with Government Information Technology Officers Council, National Treasury and the State Information Technology Agency (SITA), we will continue to focus on more efficient and effective returns in respect of ICT expenditure.

In consultation with the Minister of Communication and Digital Technologies, we will continue to strive for digitally transformed Public Service in line with the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Public Service Commission

House Chairperson

For the reporting period, the Public Service Commission will focus on the promotion of the internalisation of the values and principles in the daily activities of Public Servants at various levels, such as Senior Management and service delivery sites with the intention of changing behaviours and attitudes, and to build a cohort of Public Servants that embrace the founding values and the public administration related values and principles.

The Public Service Commission will also establish strategic partnerships with stakeholders such as the Department of Cooperative Governance and other government departments with oversight responsibility over public entities, with a view to strengthen the promotion of the values and principles in local government and public entities, which are not part of the Public Service.

Furthermore, the Public Service Commission will be implementing a programme of evaluating departments against the public administration values and principles and developing solutions to current public administration challenges.

The Commission aims to change public administration from the current compliance culture to innovative and responsive public administration in line with the call of President Ramaphosa to make government create an enabling environment, use public resources wisely and invest in developing the country’s human potential. These evaluations move away from the compliance focus of the discontinued Management Performance Assessment Tool (MPAT) to evaluation against the higher norm of the values and principles themselves.

Honourable Members

The Commission will examine concrete actions taken by Executive Authorities and Heads of Departments to address ethical violations in their respective departments. It will assess the level of leadership commitment to institutionalise ethics and integrity and the PSC will, in the second phase over the medium term, design a customised programme to promote ethical leadership in the Public Service.

The National Anti-Corruption Hotline remains a key initiative implemented by the Public Service Commission to ensure that complaints that relate to corrupt activities in the Public Service are effectively and efficiently addressed by departments across the public service. Through this mechanism, members of the public and employees are afforded the opportunity to report all allegations of corruption in a secure manner.

The uptake of the National Anti-Corruption Hotline has been successful since its inception in 2004. During the 2018/2019 financial year, the Hotline registered a total of 51 581 incoming calls, out of out of which, 1 278 investigative case reports were generated. Of the 1 278 cases, 1 076 cases warranted further investigations.

In terms of the existing PSC protocols, these cases were referred to national and provincial departments and public entities within seven (7) days for investigation, while all matters that pertain to irregular appointments and procurement were internally investigated by the Commission.

The Public Service Commission monitors investigations of these cases to ensure that all the allegations are properly addressed and feedback is received from departments. During the 2018/2019 financial year, the Commission closed a total of 759 of the 1 076 cases that were referred for investigation.

In contributing to Outcome 12, the Commission will focus on aiming to build capacity in the Public Service. The Commission has already commenced with strategic engagements with Executive Authorities, Heads of Departments and public servants in departments to promote Public Service stability and continuity after the change of administration.

To this effect, the Commission has published a Guide on Governance Practice for Executive Authorities and Heads of Departments. The Commission will provide advice and monitor departments on such matters as match and place, reskilling of employees and change management processes.

In terms of the existing PSC protocols, these cases were referred to national and provincial departments and public entities within seven (7) days for investigation, while all matters that pertain to irregular appointments and procurement were internally investigated by the Commission.

The Public Service Commission monitors investigations of these cases to ensure that all the allegations are properly addressed and feedback is received from departments. During the 2018/2019 financial year, the Commission closed a total of 759 of the 1 076 cases that were referred for investigation.

Honourable members

We are one of the smallest budget Ministries and we intend keeping it so. May I present to this House the budget of one billion and two million one hundred and forty three thousand rands (R1 002, 143 billion).

Conclusion

House Chairperson

As we conclude, we will carry out responsibilities as outlined in the Constitution as well as the legislation that governs the public service of our country.

We commit to ensuring that our people receive services in line with the Batho Pele Principles. We will continue to ensure that public servants execute their responsibilities by adhering to the Batho Pele Value Statement: We Belong, We Care, We Serve.

We will ensure that we work together with our fellow African countries to share and learn best practices in public administration. We will endeavour to make Africa a better continent that makes meaningful contribution to a better world.

We commit to all these objectives fully cognisant of the socio-economic conditions facing our country, but we are determined to march nonetheless because, as President Ramaphosa said:

“Working together there is nothing we cannot be, nothing we cannot do and nothing we cannot achieve.”

I thank you.


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