Governance and Administration Cluster post-SoNA media briefing

17 February 2015

Ministers
Deputy Ministers
Directors-General
Members of the Media
Ladies and Gentlemen

Thank you for joining us this morning for the Governance and Administration post-State of the Nation Address (SoNA) Cluster media briefing. Today we outline progress made by government through this Cluster and provide more detail of the plans announced by the President during the recent SoNA to improve the lives of all South Africans.

Year of the Freedom Charter and Unity in Action to Advance Economic Freedom

President Jacob Zuma declared the year 2015 as the Year of the Freedom Charter and Unity in Action to Advance Economic Freedom. It is the year of going the extra mile in building a united, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous South Africa.

As the President indicated during the SoNA, this cluster is committed to building a caring, effective and responsive state. The past 20 years have seen unprecedented progress in delivering services to our people. This is as a result of our efforts to implement government’s Programme of Action (PoA).
In this regard, the Ministry for Public Service and Administration embarked on visits to frontline service-delivery points in September and October last year to identify areas of deficiency and to introduce coordinated measures to ensure efficiency in the administration of public services.

Coordinated government

The drive towards coordinated government has been at the heart of government’s transformation and reform programmes for a number of years. The Public Management Administration Act, 2014 (Act 11 of 2014) was introduced to strengthen coordination of public administration across the three spheres of government by, among other things, ensuring that minimum norms and standards are set and implemented by national, provincial and local government. In addition, the Act will also applies to all organs of state and public enterprises.

1.    The Act will enhance the movement of staff within the Public Service. It provides for the transfer of employees with their consent and for the transfer of employees upon the transfer or assignment of function.
2.    Where there is a skills shortage, employees with the necessary skills and knowledge may be seconded, if the secondment is justified.
3.    The Act prohibits public servants or their immediate families from doing any business with the State.
4.    Employees are required to disclose the financial interests of their spouses and/or partners.
5.    Public servants are now also prohibited from being a director of a public or private company conducting business with the State.

As part of promoting professional ethics and integrity in the Public Service, the Act establishes a Public Administration Ethics, Integrity and Disciplinary Technical Assistance Unit to provide, amongst others, technical assistance and support to institutions in all spheres of government regarding the management of ethics, integrity and disciplinary matters relating to misconduct within the Public Service.

Resolution of disciplinary cases
In our last briefing we reported that the Cluster would expedite the resolution of disciplinary cases, consequently the Department of Public Service and Administration has established a central system to deal with the backlog of cases of precautionary suspensions in the Public Service.

To this effect, Cabinet approved the creation of a pool of labour-relations specialists and legal experts to deal with the backlog. Preliminary work has been undertaken to identify all departments that require urgent intervention and to appoint the pool of experts. This pool is expected to commence its work by March 2015.

Members of the media,

National School of Government (NSG)
In building a public service as a career of choice, the NSG was established to promote capacity development of public-sector employees. The NSG will pilot a formal graduate recruitment scheme to support departments in attracting and developing young talent, which will commence by March 2017.

The NSG working with the Department of Public Service and Administration will use assessment mechanisms to build confidence in recruitment processes and develop mentoring and peer-support mechanisms for senior managers by 2015/16. This will entail developing and piloting mechanisms to facilitate on-the-job mentoring and peer support for newly appointed senior managers.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Government Employees Medical Scheme (GEMS)
Through the GEMS, government is providing expanded healthcare coverage to public-sector employees that is cost-effective, efficient and equitable. Government cares about the health and well-being of its employees. To date, GEMS has covered 1,8 million members and their beneficiaries.

We are working hard to ensure that GEMS remains affordable.

Priority projects for 2015 include reducing medical-scheme costs through strategic sourcing and specialist networks. To contain an ever increasing healthcare cost, GEMS has increased its strategic focus on health-risk management. In support of the GEMS strategic pillar of Affordability, focus is aimed at emphasising preventative care and monitoring and evaluating healthcare outcomes for the interventions that the scheme procures.

Local government
Local government has seen tremendous achievements, despite the challenges experienced by a number of municipalities, which is a cause for serious concern. In his address, the President said that “local government is everybody’s business – we have to make it work”. Local government is the sphere of government that is closest to our people, hence the need to go back to basics to improve the lives of all South Africans.

The government adopted a “Back-to-Basics” intervention on local government and called for immediate actions to make local government deliver more efficiently on basic services, including water and sanitation, electricity, human settlements and roads.

Government has emphasised the need to deploy skilled and qualified staff into key municipal posts, and strengthen accountability and political management. Local government should serve our people with distinction and not as merely an electoral act.

Getting back-to-basics means:
a.    providing these services in a professional and caring manner that recognises the human dignity of each resident.
b.    actively communicating and interacting with the community in every ward.
c.    fighting fraud and corruption and reviewing tendering systems in local government.
d.    working harder to expand poverty-alleviation programmes such as the Community Works Programme, which provide skills and work opportunities for our people.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Population register
As government we continue to maintain the integrity of the National Population Register by registering children within 30 days of birth. To this end, we have announced that we will cease the process of the Late Registration of Births by 31 December 2015. This critical milestone will ensure that we safeguard our identity, citizenship and secure our population register.

Smart ID Card
We have endeavored to issue all South Africans with a Single Identify Document (Smart ID Card) affirming the right to identity, equality, and a single and common citizenship. In this regard, our task is to ensure progressively that the over 38 million citizens with green ID books convert to the Smart-ID card by the time this process concludes; that is, in our lifetime. To date we have issued over one million Smart-ID cards, in less than a year, and we are confident of reaching the target of 1,6 million cards by the end of the 2014/15 financial year.

Members of the media,

Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF)
A key milestone which was achieved in the first six months of this administration was the finalisation and public release of the MTSF 2014 – 2019. The MTSF contains targets related to the 14 priority focus areas for government, and is the blueprint for how this administration will implement the National Development Plan (NDP) over the next five years.

As part of promoting accountability, the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) has incorporated the MTSF 2014 – 2019 targets into performance agreements for 2014-2019, which the President has signed with all Ministers. These key targets and actions will be reflected in the performance agreements of Heads of Department and senior officials.

Cabinet will receive quarterly progress reports on the implementation of the MTSF by the relevant outcome coordinating Ministers and the DPME. This progress will be made publicly available through the PoA website managed by the DPME. The Treasury Regulations have been changed to require departments to submit their draft strategic and annual performance plans (APPs) to the DPME, so that they can be checked for alignment to the MTSF. The DPME is checking the strategic plans and APPs of national and provincial departments to ensure that they reflect key targets and actions in the MTSF. 

Operation Phakisa
President Zuma mentioned that we have introduced some innovative programmes to implement the NDP. Last year we launched Operation Phakisa, a results-driven laboratory approach to planning and executing programmes.

The second Operation Phakisa lab, focusing on improving the quality of health services provided in clinics, was held in October 2014.

Cabinet will shortly be considering ways of using the Operation Phakisa methodology more widely across government to improve implementation.

Performance monitoring and evaluation
The DPME continues to carry out evaluations of a range of government programmes. Currently, 37 evaluations are underway, in addition to the two which have been publicly released. It also continues to carry out unannounced monitoring visits to service-delivery sites and engage with the management of the relevant departments regarding the required improvements.

Citizen-based monitoring of the quality of service delivery has been undertaken in Msinga (KwaZulu-Natal), Phuthaditjhaba (Free State), Temba (Gauteng) Jouberton (North West) and Burgersfort/Praktiseer (Limpopo), working together with the South African Police Service, South African Social Security Agency and the Department of Health. The intention is to pilot this programme in the other four provinces in 2015 and start scaling up the programme by June 2015.

Presidential Hotline
The Presidential Hotline continues to be a catalyst in resolving service-delivery problems. By January 2015, a total of 207 971 complaints and queries had been logged and the resolution rate was 94%. This is an improvement year-on-year from a resolution rate of 64% (end of September 2010) to 94% (end of January 2015). The DPME carries out telephonic citizen satisfaction surveys for the Presidential Hotline. By December 2014, some 23 458 citizens had been surveyed, and 62% rated the service as fair to good.

Members of the media,

National Youth Policy (NYP)
Cabinet approved the draft NYP 2015-2020 (NYP2020) and was subsequently gazetted and released for public consultation. The primary purpose of the NYP is to ensure that we have in place youth development programmes that respond to the challenges faced by the youth of our country; programmes that enable young people to have agency and take charge of their destiny. The consultation process continues.
The four priority areas of the draft NYP are:

  • Economic participation
  • Education and skills development
  • Behavioural change
  • Social cohesion and active citizenry.

In conclusion, government will continue to give effect to its constitutional mandate and provide services to South Africans while also contributing to an efficient, effective and development orientated public service and an empowered, fair and inclusive citizenship.

I thank you

Year: 
2015
Media Statement date: 
Tuesday, February 17, 2015