Public Service and Administration Minister, Ms Noxolo Kiviet, delivered a keynote address at the 22nd Annual Conference of the South African Association of Public Administration and Management (SAAPAM) on September 25, 2023, at Birchwood Conference Centre in Ekurhuleni, Gauteng.

The conference, which was attended by former President Thabo Mbeki, Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi, and other distinguished guests, focused on the theme of “Public Service and Administration in Africa: Challenges and Opportunities.”

Minister Kiviet praised SAAPAM for hosting the conference and acknowledged the strategic partners from the government, led by the Department of Public Service and Administration. She emphasized the need for public servants to work together and re-energize their efforts in changing the outlook of public service and communities for the better.

Minister Kiviet also reminded public servants about the core values of the Batho Pele principles, including consultation, service standards, access, courtesy, information, openness and transparency, redress, and value for money. She highlighted the significance of Integrated Public Service Month, which coincides with Heritage Month, in celebrating and acknowledging the work done by public servants and bringing services closer to the people, especially in remote areas.

Minister Kiviet highlighted the legislative imperatives in Africa that recognize public service and administration as the cornerstone of any government. She mentioned the constitutions of various African countries, such as South Africa, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, and Ghana, that contain a list of the basic values and principles governing public service and administration. Minister Kiviet also mentioned the African Charter on Values and Principles of Public Service and Administration, adopted by the African Union in 2011, and urged African countries to align with its principles to foster improved governance and service delivery.

The Minister said the theme of the conference, “Repositioning African Governments in the Changing Global Order and Disorder,” highlighted Africa’s role in the global arena and acknowledged the opportunities and challenges Africa faces in terms of representation, integration into the global economy, and reaping the benefits of globalization. She stressed the necessity for African governments to actively engage in global governance initiatives and shape reform processes to ensure their interests and development priorities are adequately represented.

Minister Kiviet expressed her concerns regarding professionalism within the public sector and emphasized the significance of the National Framework Towards Professionalisation of the Public Sector. This framework aims to promote high standards of professional ethics and build a capable, efficient, and ethical state. She highlighted the importance of recruitment and selection processes based on merit, mandatory induction for new public servants, performance management, and continuous learning. Minister Kiviet said holding public servants accountable for irregularities and fostering a culture of professionalism are crucial steps in building public trust and confidence.

“Challenges such as poor service delivery, lack of professionalism, public service ethics, and bureaucratic corruption continue to hinder effective governance and service delivery in African countries.

“It is important to implement the African Charter, national laws, and regulations to address these challenges.

“Upholding the rule of law, adhering to constitutional principles, and integrating the Charter’s commitments into national policies and strategies are critical to achieving effective governance,” Minister Kiviet said.

The Minister concluded by emphasising that professionalism, good governance, and effective public service delivery are fundamental to the development and prosperity of African nations.

The SAAPAM conference provides a valuable platform for reflection and the identification of strategies to reposition African governments in the changing global order.

Minister Kiviet called for the embrace of the African Charter, the strengthening of the rule of law, the promotion of professionalism, and the enhancement of public service ethics to build capable and ethical states that effectively serve their people.

The 22nd Annual Conference of the SAAPAM started on September 24, 2023, and will end on September 29, 2023.

For more information visit the SAAPAM website to view the weeklong program.