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Remarks By The Minister Of Public Service And Administration Mr Richard Baloyi At The Public Sector Excellence Awards

Mr Richard Baloyi, Public Sector Excellence Awards 2009, 26 October 2009

Programme Director
Author and University of Washington and University of South Florida academic,
Nancy Lee,
Founder of the Brand Leadership Academy, Mr Thebe Ikalafeng.
Distinguished guests
Ladies and gentlemen.

It gives me great pleasure to be with you this evening on the occasion of the PUBLIC SECTOR EXCELLENCE AWARDS.

This conference is a private sector driven initiative to celebrate and promote excellence in the public sector.

It is also an initiative aimed at sharing global and local best practices and thought leadership.

We have decided to be part of this gathering because of our fervent conviction that working in partnership we can not only define the roadmap for improved performance and service delivery, but that we can jointly travel down that road.

But we can do that only when we have shared goals and a mutual commitment to that which we hold dear – the creation of a better life for all our people.

Unless all parties in this partnership have a strong and mutual conviction that uplifting our people is the right thing to do, the relationship will flounder and die. Each one of us should be committed to the struggle of improving the social and economic lot of even the poorest in our society.

Our tried and tested historical partnership between the ruling party in government, the ANC; labour as represented by Cosatu and the SACP attest to a partnership clearly geared at the upliftment of all our people – black and white.

As the ruling party we have also forged partnerships with business, the faithbased sector, the traditional leaders and other organs of civil society.

And we will continue to call on other like-minded individuals, organizations and groups to join us as we do battle against the twin enemies of poverty and unemployment.

We must focus on getting the basics right and continue with capacity building initiatives but at the same time make sure that they are properly designed, managed and evaluated.

On the occasion of his inauguration in May this year President Jacob Zuma called on all South Africans to forge a partnership for reconstruction, development and progress.

President Zuma called on all patriots to build a society that draws on the capabilities, energy and promise of all the country’s people.

Calling it a period of renewal, he said the moment presented us with an opportunity to rediscover that which binds us together as a nation and stressed that the bond of unity we had managed to nurture for the past decade and a half, needed to be a priority for all sectors of our society.

Over the past 15 years our country has undergone tremendous change. Through programmes such as Masakhane and Vuk’uzenzele we have made considerable strides in putting people at the centre of making a contribution in partnership with other sectors.

Masakhane, you will remember, was about a partnership between a community determined to take responsibility for its own upliftment; a government which has assumed the responsibility of planning for the most efficient use of the country's resources in order to address the legacy of the past, as well as all other service delivery agents - public and private - to deliver quality services to the people.

Indeed Masakhane was a call to all South Africans to build our country through unity and solidarity in partnership.

Although we wanted people to take responsibility for the development process, we also stressed that people must pay for services where they are required to do so.

They must pay for water and lights; they must pay for refuse removal and the general upkeep of the environment - the list is long.

Afterall with freedom, comes responsibility of participation.

We knew that in this way we would be able to create conditions for large scale investments in housing and services infrastructure and local economic development.

In this way we would promote the creation of conditions conducive to effective and sustainable governance.

Similarly through our Vukuzenzele and Letsema programmes, communities seized the opportunity that democracy brought them and they rolled up their sleeves and worked with government to change their lives.

The people took responsibility for their own wellbeing by supporting each other and developing good relationships between government, NGO’s and communities.

These partnerships helped us lay the foundations for reconstruction. The building continues.

And we believe that we managed to turn some of our villages and towns, our cities and rural areas into parts of a new South Africa that we can all be truly proud of.

More people are now decently housed, have clean and potable water, can switch on electricity and have access to social security and affordable healthcare and education.

Ladies and gentlemen, most of you in this room are probably aware that the services delivered by government employees, to a large extent, form the only means of survival for the majority of our people.

To them the services we provide soften the punches of crunching poverty, debilitating hunger and disease.

In many instances these services provide the real escape from poverty and underdevelopment, offering a stepping-stone to real opportunities for growth and development.

If for some reason the grant is not paid on time and our nutrition programmes are not sustainable, it means starvation for a month.

If government pharmacies are not adequately stocked, it can mean permanent physical disability or even death.

This is the challenge that we continuously strive to overcome.

But to achieve our goal we must, as our President enjoined us, hold ourselves to the highest standards of service, probity and integrity.

We must together build a society that prizes excellence and rewards effort.

We must together build a society that shuns laziness and incompetence.

Programme Director, as government we have always stressed that partnership is the way to go if we have to reconstruct and develop our country.

On the occasion of the 1994 State of the Nation Address, President Mandela said:

“My government is equally committed to ensure that we use this longer period properly fully to bring into the decision-making processes organs of civil society.

“This will include the trade union movement and civic organisations, so that at no time should the government become isolated from the people. At the same time, steps will be taken to build the capacity of communities to manage their own affairs.”

Madiba went on to say:

“A campaign will be launched at every level of government, a public works programme designed and all efforts made to involve the private sector, organised labour, the civics and other community organisations to rebuild our townships, restore services in rural and urban areas, while addressing the issue of job creation and training, especially for our unemployed youth.”

We acknowledge that without the partnership between government, business, labour and other organs of civil society we would not have been where we are today.

Let us remember that our public servants and the public service play a major role in the transformation of our society.

Our pubic servants need support as we recognize the role they play, a very important role. In the spirit of President Mandela’s we need to strengthen these partnerships.

At the recently concluded Birchwood II Conference on Wage Negotiations and the Occupation Specification Dispensation, both Government and Labour as partners emphasized that there is a need to develop a Code of ‘Non-negotiables’ for service delivery and the characteristics of a New Public Servant that meets the needs of the developmental state.

Ladies and Gentlemen, looking at your programme I see that you are going to be discussing a number of important topics including improving public sector performance by seizing opportunities to meet citizen needs; improving customer services and satisfaction and communicating effectively with key stakeholders.

In recent times we have seen a marked increase in demand for services.

Some analysts say that this signifies that communities are becoming increasingly impatient and disenchanted with municipalities’ performance.

Others argue that communities see local government as a proxy for government as a whole and that through these protests they are in fact expressing their disenchantment with service delivery failures in areas that are the responsibility of national, provincial and local government.

Ladies and gentlemen, if we conclude and actually believe that these protests are necessarily local government protests, we are as partners denying ourselves an opportunity of contributing to the resolution of this problem.

Equally, if we conclude that these protests are national government protests, we are as partners denying ourselves an opportunity of contributing to the resolution of this problem.

It is our responsibility as social partners to look deeper into these matters.

Addressing community expectations is a reality we all have to face and we must soil our hands.

When business decides to build a supermarket in an area, do they do that with the twin aim of creating jobs and alleviating poverty in that area, or is it with the sole purpose of profits. .

If a hundred percent of your employees, including general workers and cleaners, come from outside of the area, don’t you think you are bound to cause some illfeelings?

We need to do something about the upliftment of the community where we do business.

We need to create a few openings for the unemployed youth, offer skills through training and give bursaries etc.

The bus or train ticket office in the area may be consistently opening late or has rude attendants.

When the affected persons go to their respective homes which are in the local government area, they may vent their frustration on amenities in that area.

Let us seriously reflect upon how we - as a collective, Government, business, labour and broader civil society - can continue the process of meeting citizens’ needs; improve customer service and satisfaction and strengthening public participation.

We are at a point in our history where we need to be asking critical questions so that the answers emerge on how to sort out the challenges we face and in doing this, we must draw from the lessons of the past which include focusing on addressing the root causes of poor performance in some areas.

In this partnership we must also join hands to condemn acts of violence and vandalism.

Mr. Thebe Ikalafeng and your team, we hope that at the end of your conference you will begin a process where we can meet frequently to address these and other matters.

You probably know that what get measured gets done. Maybe you have best practices on how we can successfully measure and evaluate performance.

On our part we have committed to focusing on implementing programmes that promote transparency and accountability as well as strengthening mechanisms of public participation in governance; reviewing government’s systems of public participation with the aim of strengthening engagement between government and the people.

But more importantly lend a hand to our wonderful programme of BATHO PELE.

The Batho Pele policy remains our single most important campaign to achieve the necessary transformation of the hearts and minds of our public sector through accelerated service delivery.

At its core, it asks for a democratic and developmental approach.

Batho Pele is about putting the citizens at the centre of our planning and operations.

It is a grand partnership plan to contribute to the roadmap for public sector excellence.

Programme Director, the partnership we form today excites us because in the same way that out peers in the continent of Africa review this country in the line with the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) we are judged by those who are the only reason for our existence – the people.

Call it the domestication of the APRM if you will. Batho Pele is our grand plan.

I would like to call on all of you as individuals and institutions to join hands with us in building a public sector environment we can all be proud of.

I wish you well in your deliberations and I am optimistic that when you have your farewell lunch, you will look back at a job well done.

I thank you.

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