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Public Servants are first line of defence against corruption-Min Nxesi

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Teachers and all public servants are the government’s first line of defence against corruption, says Public Service and Administration Acting Minister, Mr Thulas Nxesi.

 

Addressing the 104th national elective conference of the National Teachers’ Union (NATU) recently, Minister Nxesi said the government have introduced the National Anti-Corruption Strategy as a necessary response to rampant corruption.

“We recognise that this strategy will only succeed if we work in partnership with the private sector and civil society. We also acknowledge that public servants – and that includes teachers – are our first line of defence against corruption. You are entrusted with managing state resources for the public benefit. You know the inner workings of our public institutions, and it is your skills and vigilance we rely on to safeguard our resources from misuse and abuse.

“We, therefore, encourage you to speak out and report any wrongdoing that you may be aware of,” he said. A concern highlighted in the 2022 Ethics Survey is that in the public service space, ‘the right people aren’t promoted.

Minister Nxesi said: “we cannot professionalise the public service in a context where poorly qualified individuals are being parachuted into positions through political patronage. Wherever they occur, these practices are inconsistent with the constitutional principles that underpin public administration and must be stopped.

“We must also take pride in our accomplishment of having in place a Public Service Charter which is a social contract between the State and public servants clarifying their respective roles and responsibilities.”

The Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council Summit on Collective Bargaining (PSCBC) held at the Emperors Palace Conference Centre earlier this year endorsed the Public Service Charter.

The summit was convened under the theme: “Strengthening and defending centralised collective bargaining to advance economic development, social justice, a capable and developmental state, labour peace and democratisation of the workplace”.

The parties resolved as follows:

  • The PSCBC should review the collective bargaining structures in the public service through a collaborative venture with the ILO so as to be guided by international best practices;
  • The review to be undertaken should give due consideration to the Public Sector in general;
  • A public sector summit be convened in 2024 inclusive of all spheres of Government and Public Entities;
  • The PSCBC must establish a task team that will audit all collective agreements since 2010 to identify areas of non-implementation and agree on a clear process for the implementation of the outstanding areas linked to a timeframe for completion;
  • Government should conduct a spending review on the costs of at least three selected agencies vis-à-vis departmental divisions and a further spending review of at least three selected large outsourcing contracts where outsourced functions could be insourced;
  • One such assessment must be for Private Public Partnerships;
  • Government should consider not to undertake any new outsourcing or creation of agencies where the functions of such could be linked to socio-economic service delivery initiatives – until the case studies above have been completed and discussed in the PSCBC;
  • The PSCBC Committee on GEHS will approach the GEPF and PIC to conduct a feasibility study on a funding model for affordable and accessible housing products for public servants;
  • Agreed that the employer would present to the PSCBC a document on review and strengthening of the mandating process, alignment of role and responsibilities of the Minister of Public Service and Administration, the Minister of Finance, Cabinet and Ministers in the mandating committee;
  • For future negotiations, the employer will be required to issue a certificate of compliance to guarantee that all legal processes have been followed for the implementation of collective agreements;
  • Every public service employee must individually and severally embrace values that include loyalty, neutrality, transparency, diligence, punctuality, effectiveness and impartiality;
  • The concept of public values and ethics should be introduced as part of school and tertiary curriculum to build a cohort of citizens and public servants who are ethical, selfless and values-driven;
  • Parties agree to build the capacity of supervisors to enable them to better manage discipline in the public service and accountability;
  • Parties undertook a collaborative process of ensuring compliance to Convention 190 of the ILO (regarding the prevention of violence and harassment in the workplace); and
  • Agreed to ensure a fair representation of women, persons with disability and youth in the structures of Council inclusive of Provincial Chambers and Governance structures.

The summit further deliberated on the implementation of the Service Charter as one of the measures to professionalise the public service and to further entrench the Batho Pele principles. The Minister emphasised the need to get back to the original vision, values and principles of Batho Pele which explicitly put citizens at the centre of the public administration system.

The Batho Pele Revitalisation Strategy adopted by Cabinet in March earlier this year enjoins all of those in the public service space ‘to act in the interests of the citizenry and to do what needs to be done to deliver quality services to everyone.