Public Service and Administration Deputy Minister, Dr Chana Pilane Majake

The accelerated implementation of the world’s largest free trade area, the African Continental Free Trade Areas (AfCFTA) must succeed, says Public Service and Administration Deputy Minister, Dr Chana Pilane Majake.

“My inclination is that if the AfCFTA fails, Africa fails and South Africa will also fail. The accelerated implementation of the AfCFTA highlighted in the Africa Public Service Day theme must therefore, at all costs succeed,” she said.

The Deputy Minister was speaking at the official launch of the Africa Public Service Day (APSD) celebrations on Monday, in Boksburg held under the theme: “The Year of AfCFTA: Acceleration of the African Continental Free Trade Area Implementation.

APSD is annually celebrated across the African continent to “recognise the value and virtue of public service to the people of Africa.

According to Dr Pilane-Majake, all indications are that if successfully implemented, and exploited to its full potential, AfCFTA can assist the people of the African continent to overcome a host of economic developmental challenges experienced by the continent.

“The accelerated implementation of the AfCFTA at the national, regional, and continental levels is crucial for South Africa as it presents us with the unique opportunity to address the governance and development challenges whenever they occur.

“Through the benefits of AfCFTA shared and inclusive economic growth, the 1.3 billion people living in Africa can overcome poverty and inequalities.

“I urge all of the country’s 1,2 million Public Servants to put all hands-on deck to make the rapid implementation of AfCFTA a reality,” she said.

The Deputy Minister further said other factors that need to be considered are building professional public service in which unprofessional conduct is never an option to be tolerated.

“Corruption is unlawful, erodes trust, undermines development, and creates an uneven playing field that not only drives investors away but makes free trade – as envisioned by the AfCFTA  impossible.

“We are a government that is viciously fighting corruption at all levels. Corruption is delaying the realisation of South Africa’s dream,” she said.

DPSA Director-General, Ms Yoliswa Makhasi said: “It is incumbent for us as public servants to build a capable and ethical public service that espouses professionalism in all facets.

“As we celebrate and recognise public servants across the public service, it is our commitment to work with the Public Service Commission (PSC) to continue instilling the constitutional values and principles to realise this noble intention of the AfCFTA.

“The speech delivered in these engagements must translate into action that can be felt by the African people through innovation and motivating public servants.”

Chairperson of the PSC, Prof. Somadoda Fikeni said the professionalisation of public service, and the promotion of constitutional values and principles are at the heart of South Africa’s projecting itself into the world and the continent.

Prof. Fikeni said the PSC will work closely with the government, especially with the DPSA, to make sure that they fully support the efforts of continental integration.

He said the PSC is in the process of reviving the forum of public servants’ associations of the African continent.

“The forum is there, but it was disrupted by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic at the time when Zambia was taking over the rotating Presidency and it is within such forums and several other platforms that will properly facilitate the issue of building the public service to support initiative such as the AfCFTA and the free trade agreement.

“We are one continent that still has the most unused arable land and is supplying some of the labour force as the most useful continent, therefore, it is projected that we will have one of the biggest and growing middle classes and the labour force.

“The PSC commits to working towards such goals, but we must be anchored in our value systems. We have one amazing philosophy and world view of Ubuntu-Botho, but we have not weaved that into our systems, when we say Batho Pele, we were in essence referencing the concept of Ubuntu, where the issue of I can never be what I want to be until what you are what you want to be.

“When it comes to the issue of interdependence amongst people, we can never be a success if our neighbours are a failure. Similarly, when it comes to the issue of human solidarity, the ecosystem between humanity and the environment they live in, we do have the rich philosophy that we ought to weave into our public service, so we stand ready to work with all role players to ensure that our public service is authentically African, not by any incidents, but by design. The professionalisation of the state is part of this process, but we must give it an Africa flavour,” he said.

PSC Chairperson, Prof. Somadoda Fikeni

The AfCFTA is a flagship project of Agenda 2063 aimed at creating a single African market for goods and services facilitated by the free movement of persons, capital, and investment to deepen economic integration, promote and attain sustainable and inclusive socio-economic development, industrialisation, agricultural development, food security, and structural transformation.

By removing barriers to trade, AfCFTA stands as a landmark agreement that aims to create a single market for value-added goods and services to promote intra-African trade and attract much-needed investment.