Minister of Public Service & Administration: Budget Vote


25 Jun 2009

Presenter: Hon Richard Baloyi, Minister of Public Service and Administration

Hon Richard Baloyi, Minister of Public Service and Administration, spoke briefly on the upcoming budget vote presentation to Parliament and then opened the floor to questions from the media. He set out the priorities of the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA), and stated that there was a need to take a strong line to ensure that these would be achieved. Threats would not be tolerated. He mentioned that there were still a number of challenges to service delivery, but that the Department would focus on its identified strategic tasks to ensure a strong public service.


Q: A journalist noted that the Minister had not mentioned the issue of corruption in the Public Service at all. There was a recent Auditor-General’s (A-G) report that concerned the many public service officials who were involved in conflicts of interests in business ventures The Minister was asked to comment on this and to say what the plans were to address this problem.

A: The Minister responded that the issue of corruption was included as one of the obstacles to service delivery. The Department was set to discuss this in its budget presentation to Parliament. The Department would also deal with other related impediments to service delivery. Public servants who were committed and worked according to the rules were key to having a successful, responsive public service. Conflict of interest was an area that would be emphasised. The Departmental policy would be presented to Parliament and part of this would focus on what was considered acceptable behaviour from public servants.

Q: A journalist said that the Minister had mentioned that the use of threats would not be tolerated. He asked if this comment referred to the doctors’ strike. He was asked if he thought it wise to take such a hard line, given that the strike had now moved to Cape Town and that doctors had threatened to shut down services completely by the end of the week.

A: The Minister responded that his comment was not limited to a single category of public servant. However, specifically in relation to the doctors, he noted that the Department had declared a deadline for the resolution of the issue surrounding the Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD). The government had tabled a proposal and the bargaining structures would engage to finalise this.

Q: A journalist stated that the OSD deadline was set for the following day, and that the OSD negotiations had started. Given this, the Minister was asked how confident he was that the OSD would be finalised and what would happen if the issues were not finalised.

A: The Minister responded that negotiations in the Bargaining Council had started a while ago and were going very well. There were a number of issues raised by parties. One pivotal issue was that they had not been able to implement the OSD. The feedback that he had received was that there was actually no difference after the revision of the salary structures. He was confident that a number of the outstanding issues would be resolved. He cited, as an example, the matters involving the social workers, where it was simply a question of obtaining the necessary signatures. The Department was close to finding a solution with correctional services. There was only one category of doctors where the issues were still being reconsidered. If certain areas had not been finalised by the deadline date, an announcement would be made as to what the next step would be. The parties could not continue to shift targets and if they did not manage the situation, democracy would degenerate. This was not acceptable as there were systems for engagement in South Africa.

Q: A journalist pointed out that the Minister had mentioned priorities in his introduction. He was asked what was meant by this and how much the Department had budgeted for them. 

A: The Minister replied that he had referred to the issues the Department had set out as strategic priorities to be done. On the labour issues, the Department had committed to concluding the salary negotiations by a deadline. On service delivery obstacles, four issues were isolated, including the issue of corruption, and there was a plan in place to address these four issues. Analysis was taking place to determine how effective the instruments used to address these issues were. The Anti-Corruption Forum was one of these instruments, as was the Anti -Corruption Summit where resolutions had been taken. He recalled the old adage that one could not manage what one could not measure. Corruption was one of the key obstacles to service delivery and the Department was interested in examining the various ways in which it manifested itself, would home in on the identified sectors or geographical areas, formulate a plan and commit to those plans.

Q: The Minister was asked to be more specific on the challenges to service delivery.

A: The Minister responded that the Department had problems with financial management, and one of the obstacles was that the Department had difficulty in spending its allocated funds. This challenge would be addressed by the Public Administration Leadership and Management Academy (PALAMA). PALAMA was intended to build the capacity of public servants so that they were equal to the task of delivery.

Q: A journalist asked what the progress on a single civil service had been.

A: The Minister replied that the Public Administration Management Bill was tabled in 2007. However, Parliament had withdrawn the Bill because of the time constraints in the run up to the elections, which impinged upon the Parliamentary rules, and also due to the complexity of the Bill. Extensive consultation would be necessary. In view of this, the Department would embark on stakeholder consultations and address the outstanding issues on the Bill. It would also commit more definitely to a date when finalisation of the Bill and the single public service could be expected. The envisaged timeframe for completion was the end of this financial year.

Q: A journalist noted that there was a related question, and asked the Minister to comment on the plans to scrap or merge the provinces. The question was asked whether the single public service legislation would assist in the task of merging provinces.

A: The Minister responded that the single public service legislation was supposed to create a similar arrangement for delivering services to the nation and mobility for public services across the three spheres of government. It was not concerned with knocking down the boundaries of the provinces. This was a debate coordinated by the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs. The main issue was how to strengthen provinces and local government. This debate would not arise in the budget vote. The single public service would feature in the budget vote presentation.

Q: A journalist commented that during her brief tenure as Minister of Health, Hon Barbara Hogan had commented that OSD was not properly handled in regard to nurses, which had led to significant overspend and budget crisis in the Department of Health. The Minister was asked to comment on this, and to clarify if there would be an investigation into the matter.

Q: Another journalist asked about the situation of nurses from the former TBVC states (the former Transkei, Bophuthatswana, Venda and Ciskei). On reincorporation, there was an issue of absorbing nurses working in those areas, at local government levels, into the greater public service, and on the higher salary scale. The Minister was asked if the Department was still trying to deal with that lack of parity in terms of salaries and benefit. The question was also asked whether this was something the single public service sought to address, or whether the issue had already been dealt with.

A: The Minister responded that the implementation of OSD for nurses had left questions that had to be attended to. The Department of Public Service and Administration had assigned a team to deal with these issues, in cooperation with the Department of Health. The team needed specific information on the differences in treatment of this issue in provinces. The DPSA would finalise its position on this priority and would commit to a set timeframe.

The Minister said that the transformation of South Africa's public service had been a journey since 1994. This journey had had several phases. In regard to the amalgamation of the former TBVC states, the rationalisation process was aimed at bringing together public servants who had been fragmented in the former homelands (including the TBVC). The creation of a single public service would be a step further in achieving transformation of the public service. In addition to this, OSD would align certain categories of professionals and respond to the categories of professionals that were classified as comprising of scarce skills.

He thought that this related to earlier discussions on the doctors. There was a category in the public service defined as “essential services and it was necessary to deal with this category in a particular manner and to address the instruments necessary to deal with their conditions of service.

Q: A journalist asked if the Minister was in a position to disclose the budget.

A: The Minister responded that the Department would deal with this at the budget vote presentation. It would also discuss the DPSA’s history of spending and comment on the capacity to spend the allocated funds.
Q: A journalist asked if the deadline for OSD would be changed.

A: The Minister responded that the deadline was not negotiable. It would not be extended and he was confident that there would be no new date. All negotiators were working around the clock to ensure finalisation. This included resolving the OSD issues for doctors.

Q: A journalist asked for more clarity. He asked whether, if negotiations were not finalised, and if the DPSA was not willing to negotiate further, this would then mean that the settlement in place would be imposed.

A: The Minister responded that the labour negotiating parties had agreed to this deadline. The Department was confident that negotiations would be concluded as scheduled. If not, he would comment further on the way forward. That way forward would not be an extension of the deadline, but the comment, in that instance, would be based on the outcomes of the collective bargaining process.

The media briefing was concluded.


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