Public Service and Administration Acting Minister, Mr Thulas Nxesi, says the national framework towards the professionalisation of the public service will capacitate current public servants with leadership and performance management competencies.

Speaking on the second day of the three-day Public Service Compliance and Human Resources conference in Boksburg on Thursday, Minister Nxesi said the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic tested the quality of human resources in SA’s public sector and brought about several changes in how employees perform their duties.

This experience, he said, has brought to the fore issues of continuous training, development, performance management and ensuring that employees are given the necessary resources and support they need to develop.

“The national framework towards the professionalisation of the public sector which was introduced to ensure that only ethical, qualified, and competent individuals are appointed into positions of authority–as part of a transformed, professional, ethical, capable, and developmental public sector which is driven by merit.

“The framework introduces measures to capacitate current public officials with the competencies required for productivity, leadership, and performance management. These measures are designed to ensure that all public sector officials (new and existing) live the Batho Pele principles and Constitutional Values and Principles, and have the right qualifications, technical skills, and competencies,” he said.

The national framework is foregrounded in five pillars of the value chain for professionalising the public sector, which are:

  •  pre-entry, recruitment, and selection
  •  induction and onboarding.
  •  planning and performance management.
  • continuous learning and professional development.
  • and career progression and management of career incidents.

The national framework lays down clear requirements for recruitment and selection processes, mandatory induction for new public servants and performance management. It prioritises continuous learning so that the skills and capabilities of public servants are always improving.

The national framework towards professionalisation of the public sector represents significant public sector reforms that position government towards the achievement of Vision 2030 articulated in the National Development Plan (NDP).

The overall objective of improving the capacity of government to deliver on public goods and services remains the driving force in pursuit of Priority 1 of the 2019-2024 Medium-Term Strategic Framework. Priority 1 of Building of a Capable, Developmental and Ethical State.

According to Minister Nxesi, for a capable state to function effectively, government requires competent and comprehensive data management.

“One of the reasons we have frosty relations between the social partners including organised labour is because our social partners cannot trust the data that we rely on. We are striving to build capacity to develop our ability across the state to collect, mine, analyse, package, and disseminate information in a manner that makes it easy for everyone to understand and our colleagues across the public service to use in planning, budgeting, and delivering services.

“This capacity is also very important in wage setting and negotiations, in that organised labour will be able to check the facts presented by government negotiators. One of the main objectives of this conference is to create space for public servants, students, researchers, and academics to share their research results in the field of Human Resource Management in the public service,” he said.

The private sector has also been included to share experiences and lessons especially on productivity management, efficient recruitment processes for quicker turn-around times and continuous performance assessments.

“At the end of the day we want to help senior managers in the public service to learn innovative ways of dealing with challenges facing their institutions. State capacity in South Africa has weakened over time, and varies widely, with deficiencies in many departments and units existing side-by-side with pockets of strength and excellence.

“The Judicial Commission of Inquiry into State Capture Report has demonstrated the systematic and deliberate weakening of the state through restructuring of its institutional capacity, strategic appointments, and dismissals of key individuals because of state capture. Many state organs became a shadow of their former self,” he said.

The Human Resource Management and Development function within the Public Sector–and the management of human resources-needs to adapt to the changing environment to realise the objectives of the National Development Plan (NDP) and priorities of government.

Management of Human Resource in the Public Sector in South Africa comes with its own challenges. Some of these are the ttransformation imperatives such as changes to the demographic representation within the public service, protection of labour rights, and with dwindling resources.

“This is telling us that the need to promote productivity and efficiency places high demands on the effective management of human resources in the public sector,” he said.