President Cyril Ramaphosa

South Africans deserve a professional public service space, staffed by qualified, skilled, committed and ethical employees, says President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday.

Delivering his State of the Nation Address (SoNA) held at Cape Town City Hall, President Ramaphosa said: “a professional public service, staffed by skilled, committed and ethical people, is critical to an effective state and ending corruption, patronage and wastage.”

In response to the State Capture Commission and in line with the framework for the professionalisation of the public service, the President said integrity assessments will become a mandatory requirement for recruitment to the public service and entry exams will be introduced.

President Ramaphosa also announced that government is in the process of amending legislation and strengthening the role of the Public Service Commission (PSC) to ensure that qualified people are appointed to senior management positions and to move towards creating a single, harmonised public service.

The framework to professionalise the public service

The national framework aimed at professionalisation of the public service space was approved by Cabinet last year and seek to ensure that public servants have the right qualifications, technical skills and be properly inducted into Batho Pele principles.

The framework aims to achieve the following:

The tightening of pre-entry requirements as well as effective recruitment and selection processes that inform meritocratic appointments at middle and senior management levels.

Undertaking workplace orientation and induction programmes that promote a healthy organisational culture.

Effective planning, performance management and appraisal systems, including performance standards and assessment instruments for different categories of employees.

Performance management can also be aligned with professional body or association registration.

Public servants undertaking continuous learning and professional development. This will include, as well, the professionalisation of certain categories of occupations in the public sector.

Managing the career progression and career incidents of public servants and heads of department.

Anti-Corruption Advisory Council

According to President Ramaphosa, the National Anti-Corruption Advisory Council, consisting of people from across society, is in place to advise on suitable mechanisms to stem corruption, including an overhaul the institutional architecture for combatting corruption.

“We are working to capacitate the Witness Protection Unit and will introduce amendments to the Protected Disclosures Act and Witness Protection Act to strengthen protections for whistleblowers.

“Work is already underway to improve access to the witness protection programme for public servants that expose maladministration, corruption and unethical conduct.

“We will finalise the draft Public Procurement Bill to address weaknesses identified by the State Capture Commission and improve efficiency, value for money and transparency.

“Our reinvigorated law enforcement agencies are taking firm action against companies and individuals alleged to have been involved in state capture,” he said.

The President further announced that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) Investigating Directorate has taken 187 accused persons to court in 32 state capture and corruption cases.

“Over R7 billion has so far been returned to the state from state capture cases. To date, R12.9 billion of funds and assets have been frozen.

“This year, the Investigating Directorate will be established as a permanent entity within the NPA,” he said.