Building a Better Public Service For a better South Africa

By Fiona Wakelin

In his letter to the nation on 11 September, His Excellency Cyril Ramaphosa focused on the theme of Public Service Month, drawing attention to the people who work in the country’s administration and their role in improving the lives of the citizens of South Africa. His Excellency noted that there are 1.2 million public servants who are tasked with delivering on government’s mandate to build a better South Africa through diligence, care and ethical conduct.

Public servants sign up to codes of conduct and the Batho Pele principles of courtesy, openness and transparency, maintaining service standards and giving best value when they enter into government employment at all three levels of public service – national departments, provincial and local government. President Ramaphosa voiced the concern that, “We often think that public servants are lacking in the provision of services to citizens and yet there are areas of distinction in the public service that don’t make the headlines One speaks here about the committed civil servants behind frontline service counters, in our community clinics, at our border posts, in our foreign missions around the world, in our police stations and in our classrooms and at the forefront of scientific endeavour in our various institutions.”

“While many citizens daily experience the orderliness, professionalism and courtesy of frontline service officials, the headlines and online debates are often reserved for public servants involved in corruption or mismanagement. It is correct that these activities be exposed and action taken against those responsible. We also need to recognise where progress is being made” – President Ramaphosa. In the first week of September, His Excellency had outlined the steps being taken in departments to discourage corruption, including the completion of over 11 000 lifestyle audits of public servants in national government.

Towards the end of 2023, government will gazette several regulations to guide the implementation of the framework for the professionalisation of the public service that was adopted by Cabinet last year. These regulations will contribute to greater stability in the leadership ranks of the public service, ensure that recruitment processes are rigorous and that prospective public servants undergo competency testing before taking up positions.

“The implementation of the framework will improve the conditions of service for public servants and bring stability to departments that have undergone prolonged periods of uncertainty and flux. A better trained civil service that attracts suitably qualified individuals will engender greater public confidence. “As we recognise the critical work of the public service and as we commend the many public servants who diligently serve the nation, we know that there is much room for improvement. “It is for this reason that we have embarked on far-reaching public service reforms that will help build a state that is both capable and developmental; a state that both provides citizens with efficient frontline services and improves the quality of their lives,” – His Excellency.

Read The September Edition Here: