Public Service and Administration Deputy Minister, Dr Chana Pilane-Majake

While the work of the Public Service is oriented towards ensuring the delivery of public goods and services to citizens, it is equally critical that the Government create a conducive working environment that contributes to greater productivity. The Deputy Minister said this for Public Service and Administration (MPSA), Dr Chana Pilane-Majake, during the MPSA Budget Vote for 2023/24, held on 16 May 2023, at parliament’s Good Hope Centre in Cape Town. 

“The end goal of a developmental capable state is predominantly outward looking with a focus on the delivery of public goods and services,” the deputy minister said, while also emphasising the importance of creating a “conducive environment for public servants to work with relative ease and ensure maximum productivity.”


Dr Pilane-Majake’s budget vote focused on the budgets of the Government Employees Medical Scheme (GEMS), the Government Employees Housing Scheme (GEHS) and the Centre for Public Service Innovation (CPSI).

The Deputy Minister said both the GEHS and GEMS are examples of how the Government seeks to address the plight of its employees, arguing that their housing and health needs directly impact productivity and overall well-being. The GEHS programme provides affordable housing options to government employees, while the GEMS is a healthcare programme that offers medical coverage to government employees and their dependents.

The Deputy Minister said the Government Employees Housing Scheme was established to assist government employees with a particular focus on low earners in accessing affordable housing through the administration of Housing Allowance, facilitating access to affordable housing finance, facilitation of the provision of the housing stock, enrolling employees into the Scheme to aggregate demand; and provision of advice, education and counselling to employees to improve their chances of accessing home ownership.

The Deputy Minister said, “The current public service employs 1.3 million employees of which more than 1.1 million are eligible for a housing allowance. Of this number, prior to the collective agreement in 2015, only 355 000 employees (that is, 32%) utilised the housing allowance for mortgage assistance for home ownership for salary grades 1-10. A further 569 000 (52%) employees received the housing allowance for accommodation rental,” the Deputy Minister explained.

Established in 2005, the Government Employees Medical Scheme is another intervention that seeks to contribute to the well-being of government employees. In the over two decades since it was established, GEMS is now the second-largest medical scheme in South Africa and the fastest-growing medical scheme, as the following figures attest:

  • Currently represents 3.4% of the South African population and 22% of the medical scheme beneficiaries.
  • By 31 December 2022, the scheme had 805, 544 registered principal members, covering 2 143 249 beneficiaries.

“GEMS strives to be ready for Universal Healthcare Coverage (UHC) by 2026. This overarching strategic intent seeks to improve affordability and access to quality healthcare for public service employees, thereby contributing to state capacity by enabling a healthy workforce,” said the Deputy Minister.

According to the Deputy Minister, the GEHS and GEMS are just two of many initiatives aimed at improving the quality of life for government workers. Deputy Minister Pilane-Majake further reported that the Government was exploring innovative ways to ensure these initiatives achieve their established objectives and urged all government workers to take advantage of these programmes to promote a healthy and productive workforce.