Public Service Commission: candidate interviews

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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report



23 July 1998



This meeting was a continuation of the interviews for candidates to be appointed to the Public Service Commission. Dr Mbere and Mr Thomas were interviewed by the committee members.


Interview with Dr Mbere

Mr Sikakane (Chair - ANC) began by asking Dr Mbere whether he was aware of the demands related to the Public Service Commission and what he could contribute to it.

Dr Mbere answered that as he had been a Deputy Director-General he was well aware of the demands of public service. He said that he would change the manner in which investigations were conducted. The present manner, he said, is more concerned with maintaining stability than change, particularly in Home Affairs. There is a need to be pro-active.

Mr Schoeman (NP) asked whether his children would have any hope applying for employment. To this Mr Mbere responded that Mr Schoeman’s children had opportunities - if they are interested to serve and are protected by the Constitution. They cannot be discriminated against as long as they have the ability to perform their duties.

Mr Manie (ANC) then asked Mr Mbere what relationship he saw between the Portfolio Committee and the Public Service Commission. Mr Mbere answered that the Portfolio Committee and the Public Service Commission need to collaborate to promote constitutional values and give direction. There is also a need to involve other key players like academic institutions and the public sector.

Ms Biyela (ANC) asked how Mr Mbere would facilitate participation. He responded that participation is a key aspect of service delivery. The Public Service Commission needs, he said, to visit people to get a sense of how they feel. This can be done through seminars, radio, television etc. There is a need to be pro-active, not conservative.

Mr Mgidi (ANC) asked Mr Mbere how his experience would benefit him as Commissioner. Mr Mbere responded that management needs to provide information in a more democratic process. We need, he said, to focus more on human resource development - in this regard he had managed a training audit for public managers in the past.

Mr Simmons (NP) then asked Mr Mbere how he envisaged tackling corruption. Mr Mbere answered that the Public Service Commission had established standards and a code of conduct for public servants. Transparency International would also assist in combating crime.

Mr Ndawonde (ANC) asked why the community is not receiving service delivery. Mr Mbere responded that service delivery stems from the values of the Constitution: transparency, accountability etc. Lack of human resources needs to be addressed and a communications strategy developed through seminars and the media. In Malaysia service delivery is coupled with service recovery. We are also now talking about a Client Charter that will keep us in touch with the people, he said.

To the question of what role the Public Service Commission could play in transformation, Mr Mbere responded that the process of transformation needs to be sped up. The policies need to be monitored and evaluated to see if targets are met. The Public Service Commission, he said, has a role to play in ensuring the speedy and smooth running of the transformation process.

Mr Mokgalong (ANC) asked what Mr Mbere meant by "efficient and effective". To this question he answered that service delivery is the central principle. To this end one needs to look at the organisational structure, outcomes assessments, delivery plans, financial management etc.

The Chair thanked Mr Mbere for his attendance. The next interviewee was Mr Thomas

Interview with Mr Thomas

Mr Sikakane (Chair - ANC) began by asking what Mr Thomas though he could contribute to the Public Service Commission.

Mr Thomas responded that he was fairly well acquainted with the Constitution and felt he had much to contribute in terms of transformation.

Mr Manie (ANC) asked for Mr Thomas’ views on affirmative action. Mr Thomas replied that affirmative action was a thorny subject which will not go away and from which we cannot run. It is necessary, he said to accentuate gender balance.

To the question of how he saw the involvement of business, Mr Thomas said that while he believed in the independence of the Public Service Commission, it could not work in isolation; it must collaborate with the business sector and other stake-holders.

Mr Migidi (ANC) asked how he could be impartial when disputes arose between labour and the Public Service Commission. Mr Thomas replied that as someone with a trade union background, he knows that there is no place for bias. One needs to act in the best interests of the constituency and have faith in our laws. It is important, he said, that employers create an environment which is conducive to this.

Mr Phenethi (ANC) asked what Mr Thomas could do about nepotism and corruption. Mr Thomas responded that these matters are related to employment practices. One can have the best work practices but if management is not prepared to do things well, the whole process is hampered. There is a need, he continued, for checks and balances.

Ms Biyela (ANC) asked in conclusion how Mr Thomas would deal with being charged to investigate misappropriation in a conflict situation where his life may be at stake.

Mr Thomas answered that he is not prepared to tolerate criminal activity - the relevant persons should be informed so that they can investigate such crimes. In a conflict situation, he said, one needs to use mediation skills and this is never easy. One needs to leave behind a feeling of harmony as one is not always there to diffuse the situation.

The Chairperson closed the meeting, thanking Mr Thomas for his presence.


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