Few hours before the nation-wide coronavirus lockdown kicks in, government is buoyed by public servants in the health and security sectors who readily accepted to serve the nation, says Public Service and Administration Minister, Mr Senzo Mchunu.
Speaking at the Governance State Capacity and Institutionalised Development (GSCID) cluster media briefing in Pretoria on Wednesday, Mr Mchunu said the DPSA issued Circular No.7 to outline measures for the containment and management of the COVID-19 in the public service, which include provision of necessary tools to contain the spread of the virus.
“We are very heartened that public servants, especially in the health and security sectors, have been mobilised and readily accepted to serve the nation during this desperate hour of service and the role they need to play.
“The Department has issued directives and circulars to ensure that all national departments and provincial administrations deliver critical and essential public services, and for all of them to contribute towards the containment of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19),” he said.
Mr Mchunu unequivocally stated that during the nationwide lockdown, government will continue to provide certain critical and essential public services that need to be provided at all times, even in a time of disaster of ‘this nature’.
“I am well aware and conscious of the fact that public servants are very anxious about this difficult situation facing us. “We are in a different terrain; we are in a state of war to contain the spread of the pandemic and if it is not contained it will also devastate the Public Service. “We would like to assure all public servants who are providing critical and essential services that we will ensure a safe working environment.
“We have directed all heads of department (HoDs) to make specific arrangements and provide public transport to staff performing critical and essential services. We have also undertaken to increase protection in the workplace,” he said.
CRITICAL AND ESSENTIAL SERVICES
The Minister said all Director-Generals (DGs) and Head of Departments (HoDs) have been directed to identify the minimum critical and essential services that must and shall remain available to the public.
He said such must be informed by risk assessment and determining the socio-economic impact of the unavailability of services to the citizenry. Mr Mchunu said HoDs must therefore, put in place plans and measures that will ensure service delivery continuity of critical and essential services.
He also mentioned that for the duration of the state of disaster for COVID-19, HoDs must consider and approve the institutional capacity of their respective departments.
“Critical and essential services must be fully operational and be escalated with redeployed resources from non-critical services to where needed. HoDs must consider a rotation system for this group of employees.
“An HoD may consider remote work arrangements within the framework of the department’s service-delivery imperatives. Employees responsible for the rendering of direct critical and essential services should not be considered for the arrangement of remote work,” he said.
According to Minister Mchunu, employees occupying non-critical positions that do not necessitate their presence at the workplace, should be considered for a remote work arrangement or alternatively be considered for redeployment to critical services.
“We have also decided to approach retired and former public servants with requisite skills, such as health professionals and engineers, for deployment to critical services where needed.
“All departments have been provided with a guide on what should be regarded as critical and essential services. All HoDs are urged to consider their own environment and business needs, and determine the staff required to provide such services. Ministers have already communicated in detail essential services in their respective portfolios,” he said.
The Minister added that all HoDs must provide staff for critical services including such as the payment for service providers and salaries; human resource support to employees at work and those working remotely; and budget and planning processes.