Governance and Administration Cluster media briefing
02 Mar 2010
The Home Affairs Minister, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, presented the statement (see below) on behalf of the Governance and Administration Cluster. She was accompanied by Richard Baloyi, Minister of Public Service and Administration, and Sicelo Shiceka, Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs
Journalist: A question on vacancies in the state - if you could just give us a breakdown at national, provincial and local government level. What is the vacancy rate in the state and if you could just indicate the levels of seniority on those posts and the impact it’s having on your ability to deliver.
Minister Richard Baloyi: I think the questioner will agree with me that in terms of having to give a breakdown in details it is more details that are expected. I think what we might want to talk about is vacancy rate in public service. What it means to have vacancies that are not filled at what point? Do you talk of a vacancy at a public service level and the impact that it has and what we are doing to address this issue? The issue about vacancies in public service arise where you will find in a department you will have an approved organisational structure that reflects vacancies that are not filled and we are speaking of a vacancy when we combine that with funding. So it’s a funded vacancy that we then say it has to be there.
If you look at figures you might arrive at different levels it depends on what the source of that information is you use personnel salary system (PERSAL). You will find it indicates that the level of vacancy is at a particular point you use. For instance the Public Service Commission from time to time do conduct surveys and then come with reports that indicate [what] our vacancy rate is at a given point.
So the priority for us of course in the context of assisting as the Minister, our chairperson has indicated as to our approach in terms of dealing with this. When you have a vacancy that is not filled the impact is that you have a resource that is not available. If it’s 10% of your establishment it means you are 10% not ready in terms of what it takes to have the human resources to be able to address that.
We are managing this in that way. We then see all the vacancies that are there, they definitely have to be filled. Of course when you fill a vacancy there are quite a lot of factors that your consider. I spoke about the availability of funding for that particular vacancy but it’s not acceptable for Departments to stay for a longer time because if you stay for a longer time with vacancies that are not filled you are actually compromising yourself in terms of rising to the level of being able to address those things.
From one department to another, talking about one case to another may actually cite different reasons to them, say maybe you didn’t have responsive applications to actually move forward and backward and stuff like that. The message we are saying in this year of action if we are to be true to our commitment to provide support to the delivery of services faster, we would like to actually see the vacancies, if the vacancy arise, within in a period of not less than two months, we would like to see that vacancy filled.
Journalist: I wondered if you could give us a rundown on the identity documents, the new machine readable identity books. What is the latest situation on those that is certainly something that will improve delivery in local government?
Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma: I’m not sure what you are talking about, we don’t have machine readable ID books? Whose machine reads them?
Journalist: The credit card type IDs, smartcards?
Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma: The smartcard identity book was halted because when Treasury gave the money to develop the smartcard, the department had to go to the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) to run with the tender and SITA didn’t do as it was supposed to do and the board of SITA stopped that tender because there were irregularities.
Having stopped the tender the money went back to Treasury and with the recession and all the problems we have the money was then used for other things but we are still pursuing. We are now looking at, I think I communicated earlier we are still in discussion to see whether this tender can be done differently because we had bad experience with the tenders and SITA.
So we are not sure whether we should go back to SITA or be given an alternative way of dealing with [it]. So that is the situation we find ourselves in with the smartcard, but we will pursue it. In our Budget we don’t have the money for the smartcard but once we have established which way to go, because there was no point in asking, so once we have an alternative we will try to put in a bid in the next budget. Thanks.
Journalist: My first question is more of a curiosity with regards to PERSAL. There are some workshops that will be held for officials. Isn’t PERSAL like ancient already? Shouldn’t people know how to use the system? Then I have a question for Minister Shiceka, there are 283 municipalities, you just finished the first phase where you visit the two worst off municipalities in each province.
That leaves us with 18 that should also be getting attention - of the 283 that is very little. In the Free State there is about seven municipalities under central intervention, you know 18 is not that much. Then there was something I was concerned about that the MPSA doesn’t have the power to force departments to adhere to provisions that relate to people being suspended.
Surely that is a problem for local government, if we have people being suspended and they are suspended often times for 12 to 18 months and we pay their salaries. Isn’t there some way by using the labour legislation and the Public Service Act to try and enforce municipalities and provincial legislatures and local government to actually have an impact here to say you need to finalise these disciplinary hearings within a set amount of time? Thank you.
Minister Richard Baloyi: The question as to whether it should not be time now that we should say people should be as familiar with PERSAL to the extent of what PERSAL is all about. I fully agree with you it should be time. It should be time that we say people who are using the system are familiar but you see PERSAL operates on the basis, like they say when you use this ID technology they say garbage in garbage out to the extent that data quality of PERSAL becomes an issue that becomes a call for us to then say we should not rest on the assumption that age alone could then be saying that we are as efficient and effective as we ought to be.
That is why as a department we then say as a cluster operation PERSAL clean up is the way to go and the workshops that you refer to are actually meant to deal with that issue so that if you have a system like that the system itself not being a problem how do you match the system with people’s competencies.
You know continued enhancement of people’s competencies to be able to utilise this system that we introduce is always the issue to go. So that is why we are doing these things.
On the question as to the management of discipline we have set this year as a year of action the year when we should begin to do things differently we must actually arise above a level of compliancy.
Compliancy to then say there is nothing we can do as Department of Public Service and Administration, those are policies we developed, if the departments don’t do anything about it, it’s not our case. We are dealing with the issue of discipline management, that is why one of our priorities is to revisit the legislation and the practices that deals with issues related to discipline management.
We are then saying if a person is to be suspended or have committed misconduct, within a period of a month the Department is then in a position to determine the severity of a case and to determine whether a suspension shall be accompanied with full pay and it should not be open ended. It must be managed within a given period of time. This thing of people being suspended with full pay doesn’t actually impose a responsibility on both the side of the Department and the person who has been suspended to move with speed towards the finalisation of the case, that is why we are saying we are doing things differently this year.
It is not natural that the Department of Public Service should have no power, it is a question of tradition born out of a understanding of the situation that we actually have to do differently now. So that is exactly what we are doing, we will be unleashing a programme; as the Minister has indicated when we debate we will be talking to the nation, talking to public servants for them to know that the issues of discipline management is an issue that we must actually add speed to dealing with that, that is doing things differently.
Journalist: My question is also around the suspensions and the disciplinary. You speak in the statement about exploring the possibility of setting up a disciplinary unit to assist departments in difficult and high profile disciplinary cases, can you please elaborate on that? And also just tell me what you see as a high profile disciplinary case?
Journalist: I also would like to understand what is a progressive discipline? It’s on page five in the statement that we have.
Journalist: Minister I understand your explanation about not wanting to give the numbers on the vacancy rate but in terms when we come back here next year to assess your Department’s progress you have the numbers available why not give it to us?
Minister Richard Baloyi: It’s not a question about not wanting to give the numbers; the nature of this engagement is one on one. I think you will be surprised if I can talk numbers and numbers just like that. It’s not that we are not willing to give. The numbers are there, we will give detailed breakdown in terms of that, it’s not a secret. We have nothing to hide in as far as that is concern. That’s why I said let’s talk about the issues, the impact of the high vacancy rates.
The issue of progressive discipline referred to in the document is a situation where you are talking about progressive discipline implying a restorative discipline instead of punitive. I think in the context that it is indicated in the document that is exactly what we mean. So that on the one hand you are actually going to look at what remedial action you can address on this.
But on the other hand definitely if discipline is to be balanced you can’t avoid a situation where you talk about the punitive action being taken about that. So the question of saying how do you then looks at those things, in some areas it might be that why you are not in a firing spree. You then say in terms of our systems in terms of how we deal with, if you want to actually give an opportunity in the process of people mending their attitudes and their actions and responding to what it takes to be credible public servants.
But on the extreme you definitely have to make sure that at some stage you will then say the door that you used to come into the public service may you use it quickly out of the public service that is what exactly we need to do.
High profile cases, we are talking about cases of embezzlement of funds, corruption, we are talking about system violations, and those are actually high profile cases talking about the issues of fraud and the like. That’s why we are then saying within one month that indicated we need to know, determine the severity. We must then be able to say in some cases why don’t we even go the route of even suspending without pay; those are things we are talking about?
The issue about having to come out with a unit that then says who deals with these things, assist departments in dealing with some of these cases is actually based on the understanding that we are not actually going on with this hands off approach. To then say we have policies and stuff like that, we insist as Department of Public Service and Administration to then say there has to be compliance with the policies that we set ourselves.
It takes so much time, or firstly let me indicate that all cases of misconduct we will then be saying they have to be reported. We have to know that in department A or department B there is a case of misconduct going on so that we trace that to then say how far you are? You need to actually deal with these issues and make sure that we finalise cases in time. That’s a priority in terms of what we do. We are going to link that with the issues on ethics management.
We are actually creating an ethics committee within Department of Public Service and Administration, and we will then say coming with a policy to then say each Department then need to have ethics offices. Then in dealing with issues like that and as we record the axe of the unethical conduct that may sometimes be to the degree of constitution a misconduct or corruption themselves, we will then deal with those issues and say lets expedite in dealing with those issues. That’s exactly what we mean.
Journalist: I just want to find out are you factoring in trade unions because you have a highly unionised public service. How are you factoring trade unions in these negotiations around trying to clean up the institution? And then beefing up of your own department to get compliance in difference departments, are you not just packing your department with more bureaucrat? Is the idea not supposed to enable the departments where the problems are to get their systems going to actually ensure that they expedite process? Shouldn’t you beef up their human resource capacity, their ability to do conflict resolution or to detect these problems? Are you not just packing your department and shouldn’t the intervention be in the individual departments rather than at the Department of Public Service and Administration?
Minister Richard Baloyi: You are right; we are not centralising everything at the department. We are then saying through our capacity building intervention, through our human resource development intervention as part of the responsibilities that we have to empower all departments we then see departments on their own. They need to be able to deal with these things. But when you say departments on their own should be able to deal with these things I commented like I did based on what is in the document that you have that says no the Department of Public Service and Administration has got no rule.
It’s like there is no central eye that says on this policy that we have to do one, two, three, lets address these issue, you are right we definitely have to capacitate and make sure that departments on their own at various spheres are able to deal with that.
As to whether we are taking on board trade unions as you have indicated that the public service environment is a highly unionised environment. We are definitely doing exactly that. Late last year we had a summit ourselves as the employer with labour organisations. At that summit we took a decision committing ourselves that we want towards building a cadre a new cadre of public service, a cadre will actually uphold the basic attributes that will then define a public servant to be a public servant of note, to be clear of issues of discipline conducting themselves within expectations.
So we actually have constant engagement, we will soon be having a public service summit where we will be dealing with these issues tackling even difficult questions. Because you see a unionised environment is actually not a hostile environment to clean governance. It’s just takes managers who are actually equal to understand what trade unionism actually entail and also on the part of trade unions themselves playing a roll to make sure that we may achieve the clean efficient, effective Government status even in a unionised environment.
Minister Sicelo Shiceka I also must add my voice in greeting you this morning. You’ve raised a question that there are too few municipalities that we connected a pilot report. I think you will recall that on the second of December the Cabinet approved local government turnaround strategy as a national framework as a road map that must be followed by all in sundries in South Africa to ensure that municipalities are doing what the minister said being responsive and being efficient and being effective and accountable this certain point.
Now what we have done then, we have started in January and February to take pilot which is two municipalities per province that are worst off so that we can learn from that lesson on what to do going forward. From the pilots we are moving now, between now and April to engage all municipalities across the country.
The intension of doing that is to develop a specific a municipality turnaround strategy and implementation plan because we cognise that we can’t have a one size fit all because the condition in each and every municipalities are different. We are going to be concluded that in April and June between April and June we will be then be approving the budget of the municipalities. As you know the budget of municipalities are implemented on 1 July. It means that this budget will be based on the turnaround strategy that will be implemented in July.
Now also we have gone to provincial government department, national government department, state own enterprises to say whatever projects that is implementing in municipalities must be based on the turnaround must be based on the integrated development plans. If anything is not in the integrated development plan it can’t be executed at a municipal level because we are saying municipalities in charge of every square metre every square kilometres of the land in South Africa whatever happens there because South Africa in terms of our system it’s a wall to wall system.
It means that there is no piece of land that is under a municipality, therefore whatever happens there municipalities must agree with it. Municipality must feel that it adds in terms of what they are doing. That is how we are doing it means that the turnaround is real and we are saying this the people must be engage all sectors of society, we have discovered that over 280 rate payers in South Africa which unfortunately are white organisation.
They created a parallel government where they take the money instead of paying service to municipality they put it in a trust account. It means then that undermine the ability of municipality to deliver service now we are dealing with that to engage because we say everyone must come to the party. If you unhappy about pot holes, lack of service delivery lets discuss that, that’s what the municipal specific turnaround time is all about. It must be driven by the people and that what then is happening to the relation of municipal turnaround strategies.
We are mobilising everyone to come to the party. The other issue that has been raced of violent protests we have discovered that these protests all of them without exception they happen because the people have been raising things with municipalities without getting response the anger has been boiling up. Now what we are doing we are developing a mechanism of dealing with all the issues that have been raced with municipalities to be able to deal.
We have a mini workshop tomorrow where we are meeting with the colleague in province and local government leaders to discuss that. To ensure that we are able to handle protests we are responsive whilst we are dealing with the long term of supporting municipalities. The last point I want to talk about is an issue of the DC that take so long.
We are coming with a bill that will be presented the municipal system act as we amending we are presenting in the cabinet now March. That bill is aimed at ensuring one that when people are employment are skilled people, if the council employees are unskilled people what will happen is that the MEC must intervene within a prescribe period. If the MEC does not intervene the national Minister must intervene within a prescribed period to reverse that. If that situation is address then we are moving to the issue of suspension and firing, because there have been indiscriminate firing and suspension in this qualities particular in at a senior management level. We are saying then we want to ensure that there’s stability Cadre of leadership in a municipality.
That stability is that if you suspending or you are firing you must report to the province and they must report to national cause you must write it down and explain why the reasons? Why certain things happen and ensure that we counter that. Therefore we believe that if we do those things we will be able to move forward. The last point that we are dealing with was raised by the president in the 8 January statement. It’s where employees at a level of managers are office bearers of political parties; we are putting a bill to deal with that we are presenting it to Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) yesterday because we met in Johannesburg.
They a bit unhappy but we say let’s engage but the bill is coming this month. We presenting it to Cabinet this month to ensure that we deal with all those things even the issues of prolonging discipline we want it to be snappy, quick and we are looking at this thing people who has done great things as the Minister of Public Works were saying who continue being paid by the state, those issues we are dealing with in the bill we want to ensure that they are resolved.
Journalist: Just a follow up you refer to rate payers association that undermine municipality the ability to deliver service, given that and the proliferation of violent protests we seen across the country. Would you agree that a lot of people are just sick and tired of the lack of service delivery and that they don’t trust government to deliver the service even though Government say it will be given we see township and suburbs overflow by sewerage and potholes not being fixed?
Journalist: I just want to find out from this cluster whether you are considering any measures to determine the phenomenon of civil service doing business with the states link to what you talking about anti corruption dealing with suspension?
Journalist: The other dimension to the protests and violent protests has been identified as political infighting. Two issues has arise what can you do to stop and secondly would any measures that you take not be so unpopular that the municipal election next year would be problematic?
Journalist: Regarding a political infighting, I see one of the proposals in the turnaround strategy is to have a single election for national Provincial and Local government at the same time. This will be a huge big change, what is the status of this proposal is there going to be debate about it and what do you personally think the benefit will be for local communities?
Minister Sicelo Shiceka: There is a high degree of unhappiness about the quality and the quantity of services delivered at a local government level. That is why there is what is called local government turnaround strategy. We are saying even the white ratepayers associations who are protesting silently by taking their money to the trust accounts they must come to the party and let’s find solutions all of us. That is the core of our message when we say that local government is everybody’s business and equally those that are protesting violently we are saying let’s engage on that.
That is why I’m saying we will be presenting a plan on how to curb these violent protests when we meet with the MECs and local government leaders so that we are able to do deal with this thing because it undermines the programme we are involved in, in supporting municipalities and moving forward because of the protest. To us it’s like a baby who is crying when the baby sees the parent , because we are dealing with the issue people are raising these things more so they are able to get attention.
On the issue of political infighting, we find that in most areas if not all the conditions there are not to good people are raising genuine issues but what we are saying as much as they do so they must not use violence means to be able to attract attention on the issues. Therefore from our point of view we believe that let’s find peaceful means to address the thing we have said in our plan that by 2014 we would like to see a situation where there are no violent protests in South Africa.
We are able to be responsive we can attend to people’s issues and therefore they don’t have to go to the streets to burn tyres and property for them to be listened to, going forward. On the matter of the issue of the single election the matter has been presented to all structures of the ruling party it has not gone to Cabinet where this matter is being presented and there is a broad agreement but we will be taking the further consultations on the matters going forward to take it up.
What are the benefits, the benefits are very simply the benefits are going to ensure that we don’t have an election fatigue as a country because if you look at it we have elections two and a half year later it’s a another election it means there is no time for stability for us to focus on service delivery in the way we do things.
At the same time it’s going to assist on planning when we plan we have one plan there are no different manifestos for political parties you have one manifesto and you are able to ensure you execute it within in a period of five years. In terms of allocation of resources we will be able to allocate the resources adequately because we have one election even on the issue of deployment of personnel in relation to people who represent political parties.
What is happening now the best cadres are in national government then the second coach of the train is in provincial government and you find the last coach becomes local government. You find that we don’t have the best of the best in local government but if you have one election that thing is going to be dealt with that is what was raised on issues when they were presented in structures and it’s something that we are still going to when they were presented in structures and it’s something that we are still going to take up for engagement because Cabinet is the one that decides on matters it’s not only parties that raises things. Thank you very much.
The question on civil servants doing business with the state, I think this question is twofold: one deals with the Public Service which is under the Department of Public Service and Administration and also local government. In terms of the laws the Public Service Act as amended in 2008 it doesn’t allow any public servant to do business with government. Even if you are to do business outside your normal work you must get permission from the executive authority. Now secondly at a local government level it is not allowed that even your family, l in terms of Local Government Laws Amended Act of 2008, let alone yourself as a person conduct business with government if you are an employed by government. Now anybody who violates that is something that has to be taken by government to deal with it because you can’t have your cake and eat it.
You work here and you give business to your own companies whilst you are in a position of decision making; that’s what being raised there at that level in terms of conducting business at a local government level. I think in terms of the public service the minister can talk to that regime that drives that, thank you very much.
Minister Richard Baloyi: In addition to what Minister Shiceka has indicated the question that we have is like you raised it, what are we then doing? We have developed a code of good practice. We will be going through extensive consultations in this regard. We are going to launch the code on Public Service Day during the Public Service Week starting on 23 June.
In that code of conduct we are going to address issues related to the introduction of a Public Service Charter that outlines the dos and the don’ts. Calling on public servants to commit themselves not only just commit themselves for the sake of commitment but commit themselves and we are then enforce on management to make sure that when we then say you do assessment, annual assessment on the performance of your public servants you should actually include into that.
Included in what we are then saying is a question of saying, should we as Minister Shiceka has said, as far as doing business with government that is outright no. Should we then say in as far as in doing business in general outside is that something we want to say let’s continue with because there is a thin line of dividing to then say now you are doing business with government now you are doing business with business.
The issue is, do you really want to continue with the arrangement where you then say allow your public servants to share their time of doing work as public servants and doing work as business people outside? We will be going through the consultation sessions as I’ve indicated with a view that we might want to amend some of the legislations that we have, we might want to revisit some of the policies that we have. We have this in terms of the Public Service Act as amended we then say you can be allowed to do remunerative work outside, so participating in business.
We want to leave it open ended because it’s not only the issue you have interest you can actually deal with those things but it’s also a reality that a human being can only perform to certain extent you need to actually re-energise so that you are ready to deliver in terms of what is expected of you. If we allow that somebody might say I’m doing my public service nurse work during the day but I’m also working for a private clinic, I will actually do night shift in the process one of the two employers are going to be cheated and you will find in the majority of cases it will not be the private sector that will be cheated, it will be actually the public one.
So we are coming with strong measures of recommending, prescribing that this can only be given to a certain category. When it comes to the issue of doing business there are two things we want to mange there, the issue of declaration and the issue of disclosure. In the majority of cases the concept of disclosure has actually been used as a shelter, you disclose as a public servant that you have interest in business so you continue to do business and it becomes a shelter. At the end of the day when it comes to the ills of your participating in those business interests, it becomes something that actually complicates the management of that particular conduct.
We are then saying is it not time now that we manage these things on the question of declaration that if you are a public servant you have to sit and adjudicate on a tender and you have interest, you declare your assets. That is the debate we are taking to the people of South Africa and the people will then talk to us and say let’s tighten this regulations because the President has indicated we need to revisit this public service regulations, are they all supportive of the State in its mission to make sure we have clean governance, we have accountable public servants, public servants who don’t have divided loyalties and attitudes as to when it comes to work.
So we will be doing that and will finally launch the code on the 23rd of June which will be launching the Public Service Week to take the process forward. Thank you.
Journalist: Minister I think your answer gives a lot of questions than it gives answers. Should you not keep civil servants from doing business at all just to deal with all of these problems that your answers to my questions are raising?
Journalist: I want to ask Minister Shiceka it actually relates to this whole issue. How do you want to turn around local government if senior ANC officials or politicians are allowed to do business with an ANC local government? It’s ok to ban officials to do business but what about the politicians like we’ve seen now in Limpopo.
Journalist: Minister Shiceka spoke about the bill on political office bearers. Where does that process stand in terms of the legislation but also is there a general agreement in all structures of the ruling party that this is the way we are going?
Journalist: You said COSATU is not happy with the office bearers not holding public office in the state. Can you explain what COSATU is not happy with?
Minister Sicelo Shiceka: On the issue of senior officials doping business of political parties with government. There is no law that prevents that, therefore we are a constitutional state that whatever we do must be prescribed by law. I think people if they feel that we must be able to come with the law they must be able discuss the matter with government.
To me the issue that is more important is that we must be able to ensure that people when they do business they do proper business, the quality of the work that is done must be the one that speaks for itself in terms of the one that is being done at that level. But as to whether people do business and so on as I am saying I was outlining that in terms of the Local Government Laws Amendment Act its says no counsellor or immediate family member can do business with Local government.
In terms of Treasury regulations those public representatives at a national and provincial level can’t do business with municipalities, very clear on that? Therefore there is no legal basis that you can be able to say that private citizens must not do business with Municipalities. I’m saying we can’t be able to venture into that.
The other issue that is being range is on the political office bearers of parties being employees at a management level of the council. That is a matter that has been taken to all structures of the ruling party. If you would recall the president in the 8 January statement spoke about that matter that is not allowed. COSATU is unhappy because they feel that this thing is going to be abused and ban employees of municipalities in general even those that are junior to be part of political parties, that’s their concern.
We have said then from our side we are dealing with their leadership of municipalities at a management level that we feel they must not be office bearers. We are not saying they must not be part of the executive committees of political parties but we are saying they must not be office bearers. It means the chairperson, a deputy chairperson, a secretary, a deputy secretary and a Treasury, that’s what we are raising. We have said that any concerns we might have we must continue engaging but I have said I outlined to them, that the bill is going to be in front of Cabinet this month of March, then Cabinet will pronounce on it.
Minister Richard Baloyi: Just in addition we are a public service that is operating in a democratic environment, a democratic society, with a constitution that prescribes the Bill of Rights and the like. It is in this arrangement that when you have to change your legislation, your policies you must consult the people. That’s why we are saying banning is an option but is that an immediate and outright thing. When we talk to the people like I said we are actually consulting on the code of good practice to be launched on 23 June.
If the people will come around like you are saying please ban, we will pronounce, not only pronounce but manage. As we are at the phase of consultation its necessary for us to talk about options that are there that’s why we are then saying the one option is to continue with what is happening but strengthen and what is it that is happening at the moment?
At senior management level if public servants do business they disclose and stuff like that, now how do you then tighten the management of that? We then say one option is that you actually make sure that you tighten your supply store management. So you will then be able to manage it electronically so that seated here. If there is a tender being issued say in a municipality in Limpopo you should be able electronically to pick that up in the system and we will then be able to check who else is linked in the activities. So you will then be able to check in terms of tracing parts of corruption and then be able to address that.
If South Africans will say let’s go on strengthening the management of what we have so that you don’t have serious challenges but if South Africans say banning will do then we will manage that. But let’s allow that I think media houses present here you also want to have your own input so that we then say together can wee govern this country and govern it very responsibly.
Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma: We are a young democracy and the important thing is that we should always take stock of lessons learned in our work and then use those lessons to improve whatever we have found to be a problem. I think that is what we are doing, we have seen there is a problem around this issue of business and public servants so we are learning our lessons and we are trying to use the lessons to improve the governance.
Journalist: Minister Baloyi you were together with Minister Doidge appointed to look at the review of the Ministerial handbook. What steps has been taken thus far and can you give us any timeframes on when we will see the actual changes if there are any?
Journalist: Minister you admitted that this widespread dissatisfaction with the state of local municipalities but you also seem to be saying we must believe the turnaround strategy is like the panache to all of this. But you would know it’s not the first time that we have had such an intervention. We have had product consolidate, we have had many other interventions which were less high profile but which was also meant to deal with Local government. Why must we believe that this turnaround strategy will be the solution? What are you going to do differently that has not been done before?
Journalist: Minister Shiceka, can you not take the initiative yourself to come up with a draft law banning office bearers from the ruling party or wherever they are from having companies that gets millions of rands of tenders, I mean you are in the process of banning office bearers from being senior managers of municipalities. Why do you need to wait for the people to pronounce on this?
Journalist: National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) has recommended a cap for municipalities for the electricity increases they can pass on to consumers. South African Local Government Association (SALGA) has challenged this saying that NERSA has no right to introduce such a cap or introduce the blocked tariff. Can you comment on government’s views and especially in the context of how depended municipalities have become on the revenue they generate from electricity sales?
Journalist: There were reports about 500 000 IDs that were going to be destroyed because people haven’t claimed them. Then the department turnaround and said something else, what is the real issue? How many are going to be destroyed if they are going to be destroyed? To Minister Baloyi; the suspended Correctional Services Commissioner, Xoliswa Sibeko, you spoke to her on behalf of the Minister of Correctional Services about her suspension. Now her position has been advertised and she says she wants her job back because she’s been cleared. What is your understanding on this issue, has she been fired?
Minister Sicelo Shiceka: Well what is being raised is quite an important question where you say what is different now. The difference is that, this intervention is driven by us internally in government we have not used any consultant to develop a state of local government to understand what are the challenges. It has never been done before. The second thing the developed of a solution have been homebrewed done by officials in the department, province and national without any involvement of consultants.
The third most important thing is that we want this programme to be owned by the people even if politicians can go the programme must remain and be defended by the people because it’s owned by the people. We are saying solutions of local government we have not unleashed the potential of South Africans because there was a lot of gate keeping in a way of people coming to the party and so on we are saying once South Africans own this programme it must be in their hearts and minds this programme. They must make government accountable in terms of what is expected of them now those are the fundamental shifts in a way these things are being done and the resourcing of the programme is going to be looked at by ourselves.
We want to ensure that even the white community that has not been part of things we want them to come to the party to come and make a contribution because we believe if all of us can use our resources we can be a winning nation. We have taken the programme to the African National Congress (ANC), National Executive Committee (NEC), and Central Executive Committee of the Communist Party, to the Special Congress of the Communist Party, we were presenting it to COSATU yesterday and it has also been taken to the Alliance Summit, everybody is supporting the programme.
This means it’s not an individual who will find solutions on its own, we are saying the whole of society must rally behind the programme and support it. It’s not about me or the department or government it’s about South Africans and ensuring they are doing what they should be doing. There are a lot of elements of the turnaround that will be unveiling as we go around. A lot of things are going to be done to ensure things are changing.
On the legislation that must ban leaders of political parties, particularly the ruling party, from accessing tenders, to me I think we must look at the constitution. Those people don’t take decisions about which tenders must be allocated where, are we not depriving people of their right in terms of economic activity that is what we must be discussing. We must also look at the Constitution of the Bill of Rights in doing so because the reason for people to be barred from tender issues is when they take decisions in those structures.
It’s for the nation to discuss whether it’s the right thing to do but from our side as government the matter has not been discussed by the party, two I think you would appreciate that whatever we do, we do things to advance the course of the party that has deployed us to be here. Therefore in that respect we would not as a ministry come with a law that has not been researched on its constitutionality in the way we do things. If people are raising it we are prepared to debate this going forward.
Coming to the issue of the capping, the almost 16% of capping around surcharges that municipalities are putting on services, it is something that we believe even ourselves, NERSA has no local standing on the matter. We are preparing a meeting with NERSA to have a discussion on the matter because we believe they have gone beyond what is expected of them in relation to the issue of surcharges.
The people who look at that is National Treasury and ourselves because we look at the macro economic issues it’s not a matter of NERSA but we are arranging a meeting with them to discuss on how to handle it. It’s going to hurt municipalities because some of them they were charging surcharges even up to 35% now if at a go you tell them you no longer have the income you use to have it’s going to have fundamental implications to municipalities. This is why we want to discuss this issue with NERSA and be able to find a solution on this matter, we believe municipalities must have revenue equally we don’t believe that municipalities must charge people in a way that is un-transparent because we believe surcharges must be open, people must know what they are being charged at that level. Thanks.
Minister Richard Baloyi: On the issue about the commissioner of Correctional Services, it is true that I had a discussion with her and the Minister. (It is true that I am continuing to do that in my capacity as Minister of Public Service and Administration, responsibly to deal with such issues. I have indicated that I’m continuing to do so even today I will be engaged in matters relating to that issue because it’s a contested matter.
I think it will be fair for us not to get into the details in terms of the merit of the case, safe to indicate that in no time the contestation will come to a close and the public will know about that. I think it will be proper that is what they call sub-judice; it may not be the right thing for me deeply involved in dealing with this matter to comment before the final processing of the matter as I indicated there are contestations.
On the question from the Mail and Guardian about what steps because I and Minister Doidge appeared of course it’s true. We have signed responsibility to look at reviewing the Ministerial handbook to look at the applicability and otherwise of certain clauses of the handbook. We will soon finalise, we have a draft that is still being considered because we were just leading the process.
But we have to actually submit and have a final position that will then say if it is something that goes out for public consumption the collective leadership of government will add their views on the proposals. So very soon we will communicate in terms of which areas of the Ministerial handbook we’re suggesting you need to tighten or you need to revisit in terms of content; certainly before the lekgotla, before the world cup.
Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma: Let me start by saying when somebody applies for an ID the application goes through head office then the ID eventually get sent to their offices where they applied. The IDs get kept for six months waiting for the people to come and collect them we also try and send them sms’s to remind them to collect their IDs but as you know people change sms’s and the system of sms’s has just started, so before then we didn’t have that system.
After six months as you can imagine the office first does not have a lot of space to store these IDs forever and secondly it’s not advisable that they remain at the local offices so after six months they get sent back to head office. So these 500 IDs that we have talked about are the IDs that are at head offices, some of them are as old as 2004 which are still waiting for people to collect them. When they go to the offices after six months they will then be told that your ID has been sent to the head office but then the office sends a message that ID number so and so that belong to so and so can now be send back again because the person has surfaced.
Obviously we will not be able to keep those IDs for 100 years at some stage we will have to do something about them. But what is important for the public to understand is that it’s very important to look after your ID.
Some of these people who don’t fetch their IDs it’s because maybe they were going to the bank and realised they forgot their IDs, they go to the Home Affairs office and get a temporary ID. Once you have applied for an ID whether you get a temporary ID the process goes on to produce the ID itself.
During the elections people lose their IDs and they rush to Home Affairs to get an ID they get a temporary ID which allows them to vote in the meantime the process goes on to produce a new ID. Meanwhile they have found their ID and have even forgotten that they have applied for a new ID so it’s very important for people to look after their identity documents and not to rush to Home Affairs to apply for an ID if they don’t find their ID.
Some of them might have been people who have passed on so there would be a variety of reasons why people have not fetched that IDs. If they don’t get fetch we might have to destroy them but at the moment they are at head office waiting to be collected, once you have applied for an ID you must collect it. Of course even if you have found your old ID you must still collect the new one because legally the one that you lost get’s overtaken by the new one.
If there was a legal dispute and you were using the old one you would lose the case because the one that is valid is the latest one. It’s important to fetch your ID if you applied for it and make sure you use the newest ID. We are looking at increasing the tariffs for ID applications because the first application is free and will stay like that but the second application you pay less than R20. So we are going to increase the tariffs so that people think twice of just going to the nearest office to apply for an ID.
They must make sure they look after their identity documents and value this document because sometimes things we get to cheaply we don’t value it. So I would ask you as the media to from time to time make sure that in the public you make that point that people must look after their identity documents, it’s something that you really value, how many times we lose our car or house keys?
We don’t because we value them. The ID should be the same then we won’t have thousands of IDs sitting at offices waiting for people to be collected. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for coming to this cluster and your interactive engagements and your suggestions we will examine them, thank you.
Issued by: Government Communications (GCIS)
3 March 2010
3 March 2010
The purpose of this media briefing is to provide more details on the pronouncements emanating from the State of the Nation Address (SONA) and to brief the nation on the plans of government for 2010.
The focus of the briefing is on key strategic projects of the Governance and Administration cluster as well as key policy issues driving the work of the cluster based on its outcomes. These include anti-corruption, National Identity campaign amongst others, national macro organisation of the state, Batho Pele programmes, gender and disability programmes, integrated public service and local government turnaround strategy.
The department continues to protect and verify the status of citizens and regulate migration in order to reduce corruption. In this regard, tighter controls and systems have been put in place to ensure that documents are produced and distributed securely.
Soon we will embark on campaigns to ensure that all citizens have their births registered and are issued with their first identity documents at the age of 16 years. We also aim to establish a culture and practice of registering all births. Our counter corruption measures would include building an integrated, modern, secure system and processes while cleaning up and maintaining a clean national population register.
Public Service and Administration (DPSA)
In fulfilling its role of building institutional capacity, specific to fighting corruption, the department will drive the following projects:
* Minimum Anti-Corruption Capacity (MACC) Audit and
* Anti-corruption capacity building programme, aimed at preventing, detecting and investigating corrupt and unethical practices in the workplace.
A total of 108 provincial departments and 36 national departments have been contacted for the minimum anti-corruption capacity audit, we are currently verifying information submitted by these departments. The audit will be finalised by end of this current financial year. A training programme on Anti-corruption Capacity Building for general employees has been accredited by Public Service Sector Education and Training Authority (PSETA) at national qualifications framework (NQF) level four in 2010/11 financial year 920 officials at national and provincial level will be trained.
Integrated public service
In terms of the norms and standards for all three spheres of government, a working team consisting of representatives of the Department of Public Service and Administration, Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs and South African Local Government Association (SALGA) will be convened to refine the current draft proposals on the norms and standards for all the three spheres of government. These proposals emanate from the research that was conducted on areas for harmonisation on norms and standards for human resource management between the different spheres of Government.
In addition to this we have also developed a draft Bill on Public Administration and Management that will provide the legislative basis for the further development of more detailed norms and standards on human resource management practices, as indicated in the November 2009 briefing. This process will lead to a set of Regulations that will augment the draft bill.
Gender and disability programmes
The cluster will intensify monitoring and evaluation measures for the implementation of the job access and gender equality strategic frameworks. This will be done with the view to attain 50 percent target of women in the senior management level and two percent target of people with disability in the public service.
We are reviewing the handbook on reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities in the public service and we will then develop a policy on reasonable accommodation and assistive devices in the public service. This will enable government efforts of promoting good governance in the Public Sector through building an effective and caring government.
Batho Pele Change Management Engagement programme
Batho Pele policy remains government?s leading campaign to achieve the desired crucial transformation of the hearts and minds of the public servants. This is a public service culture re-orientation programme that is aimed at aligning the behaviour and attitudes of public servants towards the practice of Batho Pele ethos.
In order to intensify the implementation and impact of this policy, the Minister for Public Service and Administration has launched the ?Batho Pele Impact Assessment? which seeks to strengthen the integrated implementation of Batho Pele and the impact thereof across the three spheres of government.
This will enhance partnerships, collaborations and better coordination towards the implementation of Batho Pele and intervene decisively and coherently in the economy and society to address social and economic developmental goals.
Each province has also been given one principle of Batho Pele to implement. The integrated service delivery for the implementation of Batho Pele impact assessment is linked to monthly service delivery themes. The annual Batho Pele Learning network made up of participation across the three spheres has been replaced by the Batho Pele Impact Assessment Network.
National Macro Organisation of the State
The Department of Public Service and Administration is engaging the provincial administrations to share the outcomes of National Macro Organisation of the State project, which gave administrative effect to the reconfiguration of national departments in line with the ministerial portfolios.
The purpose of the provincial visits is also to share lessons learned, including the configuration of affected departments, to promote alignment between the national and provincial spheres regarding processes and departmental configurations and to provide advice on request.
Personnel salary system (PERSAL) clean-up
The Department of Public Service and Administration has committed to develop a strategy and a guide on the management of PERSAL. A series of workshops are planned to popularize the strategy and guideline throughout all of government. This process will be monitored on a quarterly basis by a steering committee consisting of National Treasury, State Information Technology Agency (SITA) and Department of Public Service and Administration Governance Human Resource Management and Development.
Next generation e-government
The Department of Public Service and Administration has begun a process within national and provincial government to:
* Create awareness on progress made with respect to the next phase of e-government implementation
* Build a common understanding of what needs to be done as part of the next generation e-government implementation
* Garner support for the proposed next steps and
* Ultimately, secure commitment to realising our collective vision of enabling e-government and by so doing ensuring service improvement and better government.
Following several national and provincial consultative meetings, an agreement was reached on a proposal to develop a prototype of a transversal e-government platform. The platform would be transactional in nature and would automate and enable the six pro-poor services that straddle the Social and Justice Cluster.
These services are:
* application to register birth.
* application for an identity document.
* application for foster care grant
* application for an old age pension
* applications for a maintenance order and
* application to give notice of death
Review of the disciplinary hearings process in the public service
The management of discipline falls within the authority of individual departments. Problems with the disciplinary procedure can mainly be attributed to the application of the procedure rather than the procedure itself. One of the main principles of the disciplinary procedure is that discipline must be applied in a prompt, fair, consistent and progressive manner.
The procedure therefore provides for two disciplinary routes to be utilised, namely progressive discipline for less serious cases of misconduct and formal disciplinary hearings for serious cases. Long periods of precautionary suspension seem to be the biggest area of concern.
In terms of the procedure, a department must hold a disciplinary hearing within a month of an employee being placed on precautionary suspension. Where the investigation into the case requires a longer period and is complex, the precautionary suspension period can be extended to 60 days.
Unfortunately the MPSA does not have the power to force departments to adhere to the provisions. Departments are constantly encouraged to make every effort to finalise cases promptly.
Many reasons exist as to why disciplinary cases are not finalised promptly. Departments are often unable to finalise their investigations timeously, especially where forensic investigations are involved. In other cases the employee charged with misconduct frustrates the disciplinary process by not attending the disciplinary hearing and then tendering sick certificates. One of the main reasons for long precautionary suspensions is the appeal process.
In terms of the procedure, executive authorities must finalise appeal cases within 30 days. This rarely happens. The procedure was therefore amended to provide that if the appeal is not finalised in that period the employee must return to work and await the outcome while on duty.
To improve the area of discipline in the public service and especially the area of excessively long precautionary suspension periods, the possibility of setting up a disciplinary unit under the auspices of the Department of Public Service and Administration to assist departments in difficult and high profile disciplinary cases will be explored in the new financial year.
New provisions to the disciplinary procedure to prevent long periods of suspension will also be explored. It must be borne in mind that the disciplinary procedure is a negotiated procedure and that any amendments to the procedure would have to be taken through the negotiation process.
Development of the new public sector cadre
In order to ensure that the public sector cadre development initiative is fulfilled, minimum annual training days will be set aside for Public Service Cadre programme. Targeted mandatory training programmes and development will be set as a yard-stick to establish whether or not the Programme is making in-roads. It is envisaged that a single government entity will be established for the public sector. The entity will among others ensure that the programme in question is achieved.
MPSA will ensure the establishment of a comprehensive funding model for public sector training linked to skills development legislation to replace cost recovery approach. Minimum levels of training per annum for public sector officials in specific competency areas will be set. Government will introduce a national integrated public sector training system, covering the three spheres of government as well as streamlining the government-wide institutional landscape for public sector training.
Cooperative Governance & Traditional Affairs
Local government turnaround strategy
Local government in South Africa has for some time been in distress, with municipalities unable to effectively perform their core functions resulting in communities progressively losing confidence in government. The situation has continued for the past 15 years, with intermittent service delivery protests becoming the expression of the public?s discontent with government. In 2009, the department decided to conduct an assessment of all 283 Municipalities in the country in the following areas:
* service delivery and infrastructure
* financial management
* relationship between municipal management and labour unions
* spatial conditions and
* local economic development
The assessments led to the compilation of the state of local government in South Africa report in 2009, which was deliberated on at the Local Government Indaba with a broad consultative process with various sectors of the South African public.
Further consultations with stakeholder groups led to the development of the local government turnaround strategy. The local government turnaround strategy was approved by Cabinet on 2 December 2009. Following the approval of the local government turnaround strategy by Cabinet in December, Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs is now in the process of rolling out the programme in the provinces in the following phases:
20 January and 9 February 2010: Provincial support teams undertook visits to municipalities to identify two of the most vulnerable municipalities per province which required urgent assistance from government.
10 February to 31st March 2010: The full roll-out of municipal turnaround strategies for priority or targeted municipalities as well as the completion of municipal turnaround strategies for all 283 municipalities in the country. The consolidation of the municipal turnaround strategy priorities with the integrated development plans and budgets of municipalities is critical in this phase.
1 April to 30 June 2010: Focus on provincially coordinated integrated development plans? analysis sessions to examine draft integrated development plans? and municipal turnaround strategies within them. During this phase the integrated development plans, and the budgets and service delivery budget implementation plans will be adopted by municipal councils.
1 July to 31 March 2011: MECs will comment on the commitments made to the integrated development plans. Implementation of the integrated development plans will go hand in hand with hands-on rapid response support processes, leveraging of stakeholder support and reporting and monitoring.
Operation Clean Audit 2014: To ensure that by 2014, all 283 municipalities and nine provincial government departments in South Africa are consistently achieving clean audits on their annual financial statements. In addition, they should be maintaining systems for sustaining quality financial statements and management information.
Clean Cities, Clean Towns campaign: To ensure citizen cities, towns and villages are clean and promoting the creation of wealth out of waste.
Debt collection and public mobilisation: To encourage a sense of responsibility among South Africans by calling on the nation to do the right things to make South Africa a better place to live in for all.
Infrastructure and economic development: To accelerate service delivery by initiating programmes and projects aimed at eradicating infrastructure backlogs and ensuring co-ordination of all infrastructural projects in municipalities.
We have also undertaken working visits to first world countries that have particular expertise in integrated municipal information and communication technology (ICT) systems and e-governance. South Africa has an opportunity in leveraging ICT to achieve all the objectives of the local government turnaround strategy.
The department appreciates the response of South Africans to the minister?s call to ?come to the party, and be part of making Local Government efficient, effective, accountable and responsive?.
Civil society has responded to the clarion call.
A range of stakeholders have volunteered their professional services to support municipalities for example: South African Engineering Associations, the Institute for Municipal Financial Officers, some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and many other organisations and individuals).
As the process has moved to the municipalities, now we call upon citizens to ensure that you become part of the process
All members of this cluster are committed to coordinating the work of their respective departments in order to ensure an integrated approach to service delivery, governance that is aimed at improving government planning, decision making and the coordination of all government programmes at national, provincial and local government level.
Issued by: Department of Home Affairs
3 March 2010
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