Minister of the Public Service and Administration, Mr Thulas Nxesi

The Department of Public Service and Administration strategic planning session is currently underway at Magaliesburg from 15-16 November 2022.

The session was yesterday morning addressed by Acting Minister Thulas Nxesi and the Director General, Ms Yoliswa Makhasi, and was attended by the implementers of DPSA policies from the service delivery departments such as the Provinces, the Department of Home Affairs, and the Limpopo Department of Health.

The Acting Minister for Public Service and Administration, Mr Thulas Nxezi, said the strategic planning session priorities should be on issues that help achieve the objective of building a capable and ethical developmental state, suitably staffed by a professionalized public service – with the systems and institutions in place to keep it that way.

HE said with the long and difficult round of public service wage negotiations this year, the objective of a single wage-setting mechanism to apply across the public sector becomes a priority.

“The benefits include eliminating the disparities that lead to a high salary bill through the integration of government’s mandating structure, proper job evaluation and job grading and the potential multi-factor index to inform collective bargaining on the cost-of-living adjustments.

On the overall planning of the Ministry for Public Service and Administration, the Minister said the Department is greatly assisted by the entities and partnerships entered with the entities.

“I am aware that the entities have their own planning processes – but they are clearly integral to achieving the vision and objectives of the Department.

“Given that we are within a Fourth Industrial Revolution, it does seem to me that the work of the Centre for Public Service Innovation should be supported and strengthened.

“Working with the National School of Government, the Department has made a powerful impact in Cabinet with its research and plans for the professionalization of the public sector.

“You have set the bar high – and now you are expected to deliver against some tight timelines.

“Linked to professionalization is the implementation of the public service charter which seeks to address the key challenges of effective implementation of the Batho Pele principles and living constitutional values,” he said.

The Minister said DPSA should also finalise the Human Resource Development and Management Strategy for the public service as part of professionalization to address the capacity and capability challenges that are experienced in the sector.

He said the professionalization agenda must be a firm priority for the Department and the NSG – both from a reputational point of view and to achieve the objectives set by the government – in terms of a capable and ethical state.

“It would be excellent if the professionalization agenda is bedded down before the next elections because politicians may come and go, so it is vital that we have in place a stable public service which is held to account and holds itself to account.

“We know that people do not always act in an ethical manner, and this is where the Public Service Commission comes in – both to encourage ethical behaviour and to put in place systems and to investigate when public servants act wrongly.

“The PSC has made known that it feels hamstrung by the lack of a fully independent status and the fact that it is dependent on others. My priority for next year will be to do all I can to assist in obtaining the necessary legislative measures to correct the situation.

The Minister condemned the leaking of information in the department and the spreading of false information as unethical conduct aimed at discrediting the good work of the department.

In her opening remarks, the Director General said during her KHAEDU Week deployment, she learnt interesting innovations from colleagues in the invited departments and resolved that the Department should hear first-hand the impact of the DPSA policies and programs in order to improve policy where necessary.

The objective of the strategic retreat is for the department to set objectives, considering emerging policy developments for the DPSA and the Public Service. It is also to assess and reflect on the Mid-year performance review of the Department, consider the current public service environment, and discuss detailed plans and priority areas of the Department.

The session also Identifies new or evolving projects for Departmental Planning for 2023/2024.

The Director General said “there is a need to reflect on the contribution of each official that is in attendance and the middle management joining on the virtual platform from the department due to cost constraints.

“Improving the institutional capacity of the department to deliver on its mandate remains a big challenge and DPSA needs to learn new processes and innovations for enhanced service delivery.

“This is also in the context of an ageing public service that has become comfortable with doing what it does, the way we do it and violently objecting to new introductions.

“This is the reason most new colleagues cannot stay long in the DPSA along with the rest of the Public Service,” she said.

On ethics and professional integrity, the Director General said there is a need for a targeted intervention to cultivate professional ethics and integrity in the Department.

Referring to attempts to discredit the strategic planning session in the media through misinformation leaks on the cost of the session and falls leaks that a facilitator will be procured at exorbitant costs, the DG said “We are busy working hard whilst others are busy planning to destroy. This shows that there are those that are not fully engaged and are under-employed whilst getting fully paid.”

On the functionality of the department, the Director General said the department should continue to review the effectiveness of each unit with Exco as a collective ensuring that quality government data is produced to inform decision-making, analyse problems, and generate relevant evidence-based policies and interventions.

“Ensuring alignment and co-ordination of DPSA decisions and activities across Branches and Chief Directorates is a significant aspect of state capability and cannot be delayed any further,” she said.

On modernisation and e-government, the DG said Modernisation and eGovernment have an important role in the government’s capacity to engage citizens as customers or users on the quality of public services and incorporate their views in service improvement.

The Director General said all the interventions require a departmental Communications capacity that can take a lead to provide a proactive approach to communications, public participation and winning the war on the dissemination of information.