Dozens of public servants braved the rainy morning and descended on the sports grounds of the University of Mpumalanga as the Inter-departmental Sports Day, which is also referred to as the Batho Pele “Walkie Talkie”, kicked off on the outskirts of the provincial capital, Mbombela, on September 27, 2023.

The second since the inaugural Walkie Talkie Sports Day in 2022, the 2023 edition precedes the Health and Wellness Indaba, which will also occur between Thursday and Friday as part of the Integrated Public Service Month campaign, which draws to a close this week.

Speaking after the first lot of 5 km and 10 km runners had crossed the finishing line, the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) Deputy Director-General (DDG), Ms Linda Dludla, representing the DPSA Director-General, Ms Yoliswa Makhasi, emphasised the importance of activities such as the Walkie Talkie Inter-Departmental Sports Day in ensuring work/life balance among public servants.

“What came to mind as I walked this morning is that we need to prioritise public servants’ health, given their stresses while discharging their duties. I think beyond the workshops and webinars that we usually organise to empower public servants, we need to start giving equal attention to their health and physical well-being,” said DDG Dludla.

DDG Dludla’s remarks were echoed by those of the Government Employees Medical Scheme (GEMS) Principal Officer, Dr Stan Moloabi, whose organisation is one of the main sponsors of the sports event, along with Brand SA, Alex Forbes, Metropolitan, and the Mpumalanga Provincial Government.

The second part of the Walkie Talkie Inter-departmental Sports Day featured several sporting codes, from indigenous games and soccer to netball, in which teams from departments across the country competed.

After the Walkie Talkie Inter-departmental Sports Day, over 200 health and wellness officials and experts will participate in the Health and Wellness Indaba over the next two days, where they will discuss subjects ranging from work-life balance in the workplace to managing health conditions and chronic diseases affecting public servants.