Address by the Premier of the Northern Cape, Ms Sylvia Lucas, at the Provincial Senior Management Service Summit Mieta Seperepere convention Centre, Kimberley

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Programme Director
Members of the Executive Council
Executive Mayors and Mayors present
Director General of the Province, Mr Justice Bekebeke
Senior Management from Provincial and National Government
Members from the Academia
Ladies and Gentlemen

I am greatly encouraged that the Province has taken the initiative to host a Summit for senior managers under the theme, “Senior managers leading for excellence in the Northern Cape”. This gathering can only assist in promoting learning and sharing of knowledge in addressing key priorities and challenges of government. It is trusted that this Summit will develop a thorough understanding of the role of public service senior managers in areas such as good governance, financial management, service delivery and promoting professionalism.

The Northern Cape Province, like the rest of the country is still faced with the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment that require a smooth-running and eager government administration with capacity to implement decisions to turn the situation around.

This should be our main reason for convening here as the leadership corpse of the provincial government’s administrative machinery. Ours is to conduct deep introspection of our capacity and more importantly, our will to assist government in facing these triple challenges.

The adoption of the National Development Plan (NDP) 2030 by our Government as a blueprint for economic and social development poses a key and fundamental challenge to the public service. The National Development Plan (NDP), which you should all be familiar with, amongst others envisions: “A South Africa in which an empowered citizenry have the confidence and knowledge to hold public and private officials to account and in which leaders hold themselves to high ethical standards and act with integrity.”

The NDP also expects of the public service to re-invent itself in order to free our people from poverty and make that better life a reality. In order for us to succeed in this, we require well-run and effectively coordinated state institutions with skilled public servants who are committed to serving our people. This gathering to me is our commitment to reinvent ourselves and it starts in all earnest today.

The success and the pace of the implementation National Development Plan, bearing in mind the vision we have for our people, can only be determined by the capacity and ability of the state to fast track implementation. For the public service to lead in the fast tracked implementation of the NDP, we need a transformed, efficient and corrupt free public service led by public servants who are only preoccupied with not only meeting, but also exceeding the expectations of our people we serve.  This means, that no longer can we tolerate bad service and a demoralised Public Service. And key to the success of the Public Service is to constantly monitor and evaluate the implementation and the impact of Government’s programmes.

This year’s marks the 20th anniversary of the South African Constitution. The constitutional aspirations of our people are summed up by the Preamble to the Constitution as, to:
“Heal the divisions of the past and establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights; Lay the foundations for a democratic and open society in which government is based on the will of the people and every citizen is equally protected by the law; improve the quality of life of all citizens and free the potential of each person; and Build a united and democratic South Africa able to take its rightful place as a sovereign state in the family of nations.”

Our Constitution requires of the Public Service to be value driven. This means that public servants should be driven by the constitutional values and principles and an understanding of their duty to serve their fellow citizens. These include a high standard of professional ethics, effectiveness and efficiency, a responsive public service, accountability, and a development-oriented public service.

In addition, to the National Development Plan and the Constitution, the Batho Pele framework commits government officials to fast track service delivery in order to put people first. It contracts public servants to the people of South Africa.

As senior managers in the public service, we have to ponder to what extent are we responding to the needs of our people? Are we truly people centred with all the principles of Batho-Pele? Are we paying our service providers on time? Are we also treating our colleagues and subordinates in a fair and respectable manner? Do we do justice with that which we have been entrusted to?

We still battle with general responsiveness to the public. We battle with responding to legislature questions on time. On a number of issues we are caught wanting by civil society groups and individuals. We must be responsive to our people and we must respond on time.

Professional leadership and good governance are critical ingredients to ensure we improve how we work; this will ultimately lead to improving the lives of our people. It also ensures the upholding of the principles of public administration as contained in Chapter 10 of the Constitution.

Ladies and gentlemen

Leadership in the Public Service must always be based on professionalism and adherence to the legislative prescripts and policy frameworks governing Public Administration. What also needs to be borne in mind is that the quality of leadership found in the Public Service can be significantly enhanced by effective continuous development initiatives. Such efforts will not only focus on leadership techniques, but also provide a broader understanding of the critical issues which government has to deal with. Continuous development and training should therefore be used as mechanisms to inculcate common public service values and ethos in order to change mind-sets and influence how government does its business. Through this process we will also ensure that we establish a common Public Service culture that promotes Service Delivery excellence.

As Senior Managers, you play a critical role in shaping the direction, structure, systems and culture, influencing the development of human capital and achievement of government's objectives. You therefore need to nurture the confidence that citizens have in the institutions of government in terms of service delivery.

To reinvent our public service we need a dynamic leadership acumen that can transform departments into institutions of effective service delivery within a developmental state. The ability to analyse and think strategically about the present and develop a direction that is productive and progressive requires visionary leadership. This is what is required of the Senior Management Service.

We have noted that the primary problem of performance concerns the availability of skills, human capital resources and systems, attraction of the right capacity, its location within departments, and the ethos of service which places our people first.

We must promote effective financial management, transparent and accountable government and improve the capacity of the state. Are we consistent with the manner in which we procure goods and services, are we making a noticeable contribution in the areas of job creation, economic development and improved quality of our people’s lives and provision of quality social infrastructures efficiently and cost effectively?

Colleagues, government is embracing the cost cutting measures. We have to ensure that we try at all cost to adhere to that but at the main we should be innovative. My position has always been that we cannot only be praised by achieving clean audits but that should be accompanied by service delivery.

In the same vein I want to implore senior managers to disclose their interest before the 30 April deadline. Compliance hereto also serves as a measure of confidence and trust that employees place in you as the senior managers. By not complying with issues that directly affects you can in a way be construed as a reflection of your overall attitude to matters of compliance to rules and regulations in the public service.

My task would not be complete if I do not speak about how we manage discipline in the public service. We are always found guilty of placing public servants on precautionary suspension with full financial benefits. The figures are highly unacceptable as it has implications for both the state and the people we serve. I am sure some of the managers present here today have some subordinates on suspension. I am of the view that the proper legislative and regulatory frameworks exist for you to deal speedily with disciplinary process within the public service. For example, if someone is suspended with full pay the suspension must be reviewed within 30 days as outlined in the Public Service Commission's guidelines on the management of suspensions within the public service.

There is no greater honour than to be afforded an opportunity to serve your people in a position of responsibility, like the management positions you are holding. It is only fair that you should return the favour by managing the institutions you are responsible for in the best possible way.

With all these issues in mind, let us engage in robust discussions that will result in:

  • An effective and innovative state machinery geared towards the delivery of Vision 2030
  • Scaling up of sector-specific service delivery initiatives on government key priority areas
  • Sharing best practices and development of a broad framework to foster integration, coordination and innovation for senior management
  • Effective, efficient and functional delivery model for the province
  • A pledge for implementation of this Summit’s resolutions.

I hope this Summit will contribute to an improved understanding of what is expected from Senior Managers in terms of accountability, innovation, mind-set and improving the quality of service delivered to our people. Part of reinventing how we work is to identify whether our human resources are properly utilised throughout the public service.

As I conclude, I would like to emphasise that enhanced service delivery requires a reinvented Public Service led by a transformed cadre of senior managers and public servants. A cadre that places our people first!

I want to wish delegates fruitful deliberations and look forward to reading the report of the Summit and witnessing its implementation. I can assure you that we as the Executive take our oversight role very serious and we will ensure that implementation of resolutions receive the necessary attention. Together, despite our differences, we can, and we will ensure that we serve the people with respect, honour and dignity.

I thank you

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