SPEECHES: Message from President Cyril Ramaphosa on the occasion of the launch of Public Service Month 2020

Date: 1 Sep 2020

Minister of Public Service and Administration, Mr. Senzo Mchunu,

Men and Women of the Public Service,<\p>

I greet you on the occasion of the launch of this year’s Public Service Month; a time of both reflection and intensified action to live out the best and finest values of public service.<\p>

It is always a pleasure to address the men and women who are at the coalface of service delivery in our country. <\p>

It is you that our citizens come to for guidance and help with the issues affecting their everyday lives. <\p>

It is through your daily interactions with them that they are given reassurance and confidence that ours is indeed a government that works with them, and for them.<\p>

Being a public servant is the most noble calling. It is an honour and a privilege. It demands dedication, selflessness, professionalism, commitment, and the utmost faithfulness to the principles of Batho Pele; of putting the people first.<\p>

You are entrusted with managing state resources for the benefit of the public, and in guarding against them being misused and abused. <\p>

You are representatives of a government derived of the people and for the people, and guardians of our Constitution.<\p>

Every year during Public Service Month we recommit ourselves to improving all areas of public service delivery. We promote the importance of good ethics and professionalism amongst public servants.

We aim to boost the morale of our men and women in the public service and inculcate a sense of pride in being a civil servant.<\p>

I know, as do you, that it is not an easy task. We have many challenges with service delivery. Many of you work under extremely difficult and pressured conditions. The expectations our people have of you are high, and you may often find yourselves disappointed when you are unable to meet those expectations for whatever reason.<\p>

I do not need to tell you of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the delivery of services. <\p>

Over the past five months our country has been in the grip of the worst public health emergency in its history. It has put immense strain on already scarce resources. It has up-ended traditional systems of service delivery to suit emergency conditions.<\p>

You have had to work under ever-changing conditions in the face of this grave threat. You have faced additional pressures not there before, not least of all the threat to your own health.<\p>

And yet you have carried on. You have presented for work every day, ready to serve. You have always done your best, often going the extra mile. <\p>

You have been assisting our people to get documentation, to get support for their businesses, to access basic services, to obtain medication and care, and to collect their grants and other forms of social support.

I want to thank you for your continued commitment to serving the people of this country and for meeting their needs on a daily basis; even more so at this difficult time.<\p>

We have learned many lessons from this pandemic. It has exposed a number of shortcomings in how we deliver services. At the same time, it has shown us what is possible if we work in a coordinated matter and manage resources effectively and efficiently.<\p>

Last year I announced a new and integrated model for service delivery that will go a long way towards solving the challenges we have had over the years. The District-Based Development model is a new service delivery approach that is responsive, adaptive and brings development to where it is needed most. It will do away with outdated models of planning and service delivery that do not take the specific needs and circumstances of communities into account.<\p>

Public Service Month is an opportunity for all stakeholders in the public sector to become better acquainted with this planning model for cooperative governance. It is an opportunity for us as a collective to identify frontline service delivery challenges and how best to overcome them. It is a time for us to develop plans to correct mistakes and shortcomings that stand in the way of delivering better services to our people.<\p>

Above all, it is a time for us to promote and drive the Batho Pele principles that place people and their needs at the centre.<\p>

In our quest to build a state that is ethical, capable and developmental, we need a dedicated and professional corps of public servants. I am pleased to note that the theme of this year’s Public Service Month is “Growing South Africa together for an ethical public service.”<\p>

Indeed we can only Grow South Africa Together. We can only realize the South Africa we want if we remain true to the course by striving for the common good.<\p>

We cannot grow this country if those entrusted with managing state resources for the benefit of all see the state as a vehicle for self-enrichment. <\p>

We cannot make this a country of freedom, peace and prosperity for all if service delivery is neglected by elected officials and public servants who believe holding a position of authority is an opportunity to get rich. We cannot build an ethical state if those who make up the rank and file of the state are self-serving and unprincipled.<\p>

When such happens, the damage goes far beyond the theft of resources meant for our citizens. <\p>

It leads those same citizens to conclude that the state itself is rotten and corrupt, that its leaders are untrustworthy, and that goods and services can only be obtained through bribery, or by resorting to acts of violence.<\p>

We cannot, we should not let such a perception ever take root. It would be a betrayal of the values of our Constitution and of the legacy of those who laid down their lives in order for us to live in freedom.<\p>

Men and Women of the Public Service,<\p>

Our people look to us to solve the problems that are most important to them. We are custodians of their trust, and trust, once eroded, is hard to regain.<\p>

In this Public Service Month let us reflect on the nature of that trust, and how important it is that it is maintained. <\p>

Now, more than ever, we must prove ourselves worthy of that trust. Let us not be party to acts of corruption, and not hesitate to report them. <\p>

Let us commit to gaining a thorough and deep understanding of what professionalism means, and how certain actions on our part constitute unprofessional conduct, even though we may have broken no laws.<\p>

Let us not fall into the trap of assuming our positions of authority make us more important than those we have pledged to serve. <\p>

Let us continue to serve our people with respect, and let us continue to treat them with dignity. Let us always remember that whatever it is that has brought them to our doors, it must be attended to and resolve with speed, with professionalism and with courtesy.<\p>

South Africa’s future rests with its people. Our fortunes lie in our ability to meet the expectations our people have of us. We will not let them down. <\p>

I wish you all well during Public Service Month. May we continue to both understand and appreciate the great responsibility we have been tasked with; to help, to serve and to lead.<\p>

I thank you.<\p>

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