22 September 2016
Members of the media
Ladies and Gentlemen.
We welcome you to the Governance and Administration Cluster media briefing.
We meet during the month of September when our country is celebrating Public Service Month, Heritage Month and Tourism Month. As government we are also celebrating Thusong Service Centre Week during this month.
All these key activities are an integral part of our programme within this cluster. As a country, we pride ourselves with our diverse heritage which is an integral part of our existence. The Department of Traditional Affairs hosted a major event last week to celebrate our diverse heritage, which was attended by Amakhosi as the custodians of our tradition and culture in our country, inspired by our theme, “Our Tradition – Our Pride”.
In addition, we launched the Public Service Month programme on 2 September 2016 in the Northern Cape. Informed by the national theme of “Together Moving the Public Service Forward: “We Belong, We Care, We Serve”, government is actively engaged in all service-delivery activities, with senior managers deployed to different service delivery points to promote good governance and public administration that enforces respect to human rights, particularly the dignity and integrity of all the citizens by Putting them First.
The Thusong Service Centre Programme is on its 17th year and the week is observed from 19 to 23 September 2016. The main focus of the week is to highlight access to government information, services and opportunities that are available in the 197 Thusong Service Centres across the 126 local municipalities in the country.
The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa of 1996 envisages a Public Service that, amongst others, maintains and promotes a high standard of professional ethics; promotes efficient, economic and effective use of resources, and is accountable for its actions. Regulation 11(a) of the Public Service Regulations, 2016 reminds public servants to adhere to the Constitution and other laws of the Republic.
The reviewed Public Service Regulations include clauses that prohibit public servants from accepting gifts when performing their official duties, conducting business with any organ of state or being a director of a public or private company conducting business with an organ of state. In this regard, a circular has already been issued for public servants to disclose their business activities involving any organ/s of state and that such employees should, by January 2017, make a decision either to resign from the Public Service or relinquish their business activities. The PERSAL system has also been configured to capture other remunerative work activities of public servants.
In addition, the National Anti-Corruption Hotline (NACH) – 0800 701 701 of the Public Service Commission continues to assist whistle-blowers to report corruption without fear of victimisation. As at 31 August 2016, 18 076 cases had been referred to departments and feedback on 16 752 (93%) cases was received. Of the total number of cases referred, 16 547 (92%) were closed. The closure rate underscores a commitment by departments to investigate allegations of corruption as reported through the NACH.
Since the inception of the NACH, a total of 3 570 officials were found guilty of misconduct related to corrupt activities reported through it.
The following are the types of sanctions against officials that were charged and found guilty of misconduct between 1 September 2004 and August 2016:
a) 1 694 officials were dismissed from the Public Service.
b) 438 officials were fined (e.g. not receiving a salary for three months).
c) 133 officials were demoted.
d) 913 officials were given final written warnings.
e) 392 officials were prosecuted.
The successful investigation of cases of alleged corruption reported to the NACH resulted in the recovery of R340 million from perpetrators.
It is worth noting that all senior managers in the Public Service are expected to disclose all their financial interests by 30 April of each year. The overall compliance rate by the due date in national and provincial departments was 98% in the 2015/16 financial year. This is an increase of 16% compliance in the current financial year as compared to 82% recorded during the previous financial year.
The Government Employees Medical Scheme (GEMS) continues to meet its obligations by paying member claims and other expenses in keeping with its statutory and contractual obligations. It is important to note that GEMS is financially sound and its cash assets at the end of July 2016 stood at R4.2 billion.
The National School of Government (NSG), working with the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), has trained 312 officials who are responsible for capacitating councillors at local government level.
The NSG is implementing that Breaking Barriers programme aimed at capacitating graduates who do not have the experience of working in the public sector. This programme is aimed at removing barriers that make it difficult for graduates to be employable in the Public Service. The total number of interns trained from April to August 2016 is 1 136.
The NSG is also implementing the Foresight, Innovation and Leadership Programme, which was developed in collaboration with the Institute for Leadership Development in Africa and the American University. It is a Master train the trainer programme aimed at promoting critical thinking, ability to communicate effectively and innovate, and solve problems by applying negotiation and collaboration strategies to achieve win-win outcomes. After a successful completion of the programme, the Master instructors will be eligible to teach the Foresight, Innovation and Leadership Programme and will become Adjunct Professors at the American University in the United States.
Centre for Public Service Innovation (CPSI)
The CPSI continues to unearth public-sector innovations that improve service delivery for replication. Through the 2016 Public Sector Innovation Awards Programme, a replication and mainstreaming of innovative projects such as Saving Blood, Saving Lives was shared with Edendale Hospital in KwaZulu-Natal and the hospital has managed to save about R16,14 million since 2013.
The CPSI successfully hosted the 10th Public Sector Innovation Conference in August 2016 which was attended by delegates from all three spheres of government and from as far as Namibia and the People’s Republic of China. Numerous tried and tested service delivery innovative solutions were shared with the delegates. The CPSI, through the piloting of the Memeza household alarm in Diepsloot, has installed a total of 600 alarms, which have led to significant improvements in South African Police Service’s response times to incidents of crime.
The National Development Plan (NDP) Brand Identity was launched on 21 August 2016 to mobilise and actively engage citizens on the NDP, and also ensure a uniform communication approach across all spheres of government, implementing agencies and social partners championing the NDP.
To ensure an efficient, effective and development-oriented Public Service, the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) has undertaken monitoring visits to frontline service delivery (FSD) points to monitor the delivery of services by government agencies. The FSD is aimed at ensuring efficient, responsible and dignified service at the coalface of delivery.
The DPME launched the National Income Dynamic Study to provide empirical data on the changing dynamics of South African society. The study informs government about a comprehensive story on what is happening to all South Africans across the income-distribution spectrum, from rich to poor. It provides government with empirical evidence of the unfolding story of the changes, both positive and negative, in the lives of all South Africans.
The e-Home Affairs online system for the application of smart ID cards and passports became operational in May this year. As at 20 September 2016, a total of 64774 Smart ID cards and passports applications were submitted through the system since inception. This includes 45165 ID cards as well as 19609 passports. Of these, 21530 Smart cards and 11080 passports had been concluded; a total percentage of 50.34.
The system is now open to all citizens who bank with the four participating banks: ABSA, First National Bank, Nedbank and Standard Bank. Currently, 12 branches of these banks are connected to the system in Gauteng, with one branch in Cape Town. Plans are underway to enter into a Public-Private Partnership with participating banks – hopefully to be finalised in October this year – to increase the footprint in the provinces, thus allowing for more South Africans to access the online service.
Status of local Government
During the period under review, the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Elections, under the leadership of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Des van Rooyen, oversaw the successful hosting of the fourth democratic local government elections on 3 August 2016.
Overall, the fourth democratic local government has taken shape, municipalities have been constituted, and councilors are settling in and now seized with the task of understanding their roles in order to deliver on their mandates. There are only two municipalities in KwaZulu-Natal that are still not constituted – the Nquthu Local Municipality and Umzinyathi District Municipality.
To this effect, a key element in the transition process at local government is the induction of councilors known as Integrated Councilor Induction Programme (ICIP). This programme is currently being rolled out throughout South Africa to about 10 000 councilors. The ICIP caters for newly elected and returning councilors, and we believe that it will go a long way in assisting to improve service delivery to communities.
In addition, municipalities have begun outlining their plans and government, working with other role players like SALGA, will guide the new era of coalition governance to ensure that this democratic outcome consolidates rather than reverse service delivery and socio-economic transformation which the country so desperately needs.
In conclusion, we would like to emphasise that South Africa requires public servants who are committed to professionalism infused with the values of ethical conduct. This is aimed at placing the needs of citizens first with the commitment to deliver quality services to all communities, especially at local government level. Together we can move local government Back to Basics.
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Issued by Government Communication and Information Systems