Minister Senzo Mchunu at the special FOSAD

The Role of Directors General in the Public Service Towards Achieving a Professional Public Service

The Minister for the Public Service and Administration, Mr Senzo Mchunu, has challenged the Directors-General in the public service to take up their positions as part of leadership, and not allow themselves to be “wrongly flexible”.

Minister Mchunu was addressing the Forum of South African Directors-General (FOSAD), at the Special FOSAD meeting which was held yesterday, 1 March 2021, attended by the Directors-General of both national and provincial departments.

The purpose of the Minister’s address was to remind the Directors-General of the vital role they play in public service, address the current challenges which plague the public service, and also, encourage the Directors-General as they carry out their official duties.

The Minister further pleaded with the Directors-General to adhere to compliance with the legal prescripts.

We are not going to find it easy to turn the country around, unless the first line of public servants, you as DG’s turn around and as the first line, you draw lines on the sand between what is good and what is not good, what is correct and what is not correct,” he said.

In emphasizing the role played by Directors-General, the Minister referenced the term ‘Accounting Officers’, citing that this was a term specifically used for Directors-General in the Public Finance Management Act and Municipal Managers in the Municipal Finance Management Act, further demonstrating the importance of their role.

The Minister said being tasked with the responsibility of efficiently and effectively managing State resources is a tall order, one that Directors-General need to account for.

Given the current state of the public service and the envisaged capable, ethical and developmental State in terms of the National Development Plan 2030, Minister Mchunu highlighted the critical leadership role played by Directors-General, not only in respect of the public service but also in service of the country as a whole.

Directors-General are part of the leadership of the country, spread throughout the spheres and arms of the State. Where leadership normally refers to elected political leadership, DG’s are a component of appointed administrative leadership,” Minister Mchunu said. 

In outlining the components which underpin public service, the Minister named the Citizens, who are the beneficiaries of the services, the Government which is elected into office to carry out the will of the people, the Service itself, and, the Public Servants, including the aspect that equity, transparency, and fairness bind these components.

One of the objectives in building a capable, ethical and developmental State, is a public service immersed in the development agenda but insulated from undue political interference.

“Whilst politics cannot be completely subtracted, Minister Mchunu clearly stated the responsibilities of both the political leaders and those of the administrative leaders.

“Elected political leadership works on the basis of mandates given to them by the people within the constitutional and legislative framework. Their responsibility is political in nature, to provide direction and guidance to the administration in a manner that is transparent and accountable.

“Administrative leadership gives administrative effect to political leadership mandates, direction and guidance based on the Constitution, the law and administrative prescripts,” he said. 

Following the Minister’s address, the Director-General of the Department of Public Service and Administration, Ms Yoliswa Makhasi, made a presentation on key areas Directors-General need to focus on.

The Minister’s address and the Director-General’s presentation were well received and appreciated, with the Directors-General stating that indeed the challenges they faced were many but pledged to take it in their stride towards the attainment of a capable, ethical and developmental State.