Deputy Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga (2nd from left) photographed with Ethekwini municipal officials.

The eThekwini Municipality won the overall innovator of the year award for their innovative WhatsApp that enables the Municipality to receive and respond to enquiries from residents timeously. The award ceremony was hosted by the Centre for Public Service Innovation (CPSI) in Boksburg, east of Johannesburg on Friday evening (29 November 2019).

At the awards, the KwaZulu-Natal Health Department scooped the GEMS Health award for their Online APP for Nursing Training.

Mokwakwaila Limpopo SAPS and Gauteng YCAP walked away with the Special Ministerial Awards for their innovative methods to deal with social ills in their respective communities.

The category, Innovations Harnessing 4IR Solutions went to Vulekamali-North West Treasury for their usage of drones for photography of public infrastructure projects.

The North-West Treasury won the Innovative Solutions reducing the cost of delivering services category.

Public Service and Administration Deputy Minister, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga, hailed the annual Public Sector Innovation Awards as a critical platform that is promoting a highly productive public service.

Speaking at the awards ceremony, the Deputy Minister said the Public Sector Innovation Awards programme is a critical, effective and robust platform that supports the transformation and development of a better performing, creative, entrepreneurial and highly productive public service.

“We, in fact, as the Public Service and Administration portfolio, salute you here for ensuring that as a government, we continuously improve our service delivery through innovation.

“Tonight we are celebrating, excellence of those among us who demonstrate at all times the unwavering commitment to serve the people of the Republic of South Africa. We are celebrating, those who never betray the ethical standards which the masses of South Africa view as fundamental to the definition of themselves,” she said.

Deputy Minister Chikunga said in the advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), it means governments needs to find innovative ways to deliver public services with high efficiency, but within austerity measures put in place.

She added that transformation and innovation advancement of the public service could not occur without the dedication of public officials, elected or appointed.

The awards ceremony was preceded by the Public Sector Innovation conference with the theme: “Design Thinking, Foresight and Innovation.” The Conference provided delegates with an ideal platform to passionately engage and share knowledge and expertise on the critical value and impact of public sector innovation, unpack public service innovation and its unique nuances, in particular design and foresight approaches.

This theme of the Conference, according to the Deputy Minister, provide the appreciation and an approach by public servants to continually see what everybody has seen, but think what nobody has thought and take action. 

“This theme talks to the constant engagement and discussion on revolutionary ideas which are non-linear, but includes iterative process which seeks to understand users, challenge assumptions, redefine problems and create innovative solutions to prototype, test and then replicate. 

“With the main objective to improve the cost of doing business in government, but primarily delivering better service and thus bettering the lives of our citizens.

The CPSI, which is mandated to entrench innovation in the public sector, received a clean audit report for the 3rd year running, following the Auditor-General’s annual audit.

The purpose of the awards include to recognize and reward projects and programmes that are improving public service delivery, promote and encourage innovative thinking, and encourage information sharing, partnerships and most importantly, replication or mainstreaming of successfully implemented solutions to better the lives of our people.

The Conference also provided delegates from all spheres of government, business, academia and civil society with an ideal opportunity to share practical experiences and knowledge on public sector innovation and trends.