“We have got to make reforms. We need to move fast,” Minister Senzo Mchunu told Parliament.
PUBLIC Service and Administration Minister Senzo Mchunu said gone are the days of the blame game between members of the executive and heads of departments over unlawful and “corrupt” directives.
Mchunu said anything that hindered the efficient performance and ultimate delivery of services to the people should be dealt with with urgency.
He made the comments when his department briefed the public service and administration portfolio committee on two bills that seek to close gaps in public service-related legislations.
Mchunu told MPs that they were behind in putting the public service where it should be.
“It has been affected by interruptions which found aspects not strong enough to resist the environment the public service operates in the country. We have got to make these reforms. We need to move fast,” he said.
The minister stated that, at the end of the day, the public service should be a catalyst for the delivery of services for the people of South Africa. “Anything that hinders its efficiency, performance and the ultimate delivery of service to the people must be dealt with urgency.”
Mchunu remained hopeful that when the bills were introduced in Parliament they would move with the necessary speed and co-operation from MPs.
He, however, expected some contestation with labour on some issues, especially the provision for the transfer of staff to other spheres.
But, he was adamant that those provisions were setting out the role of the executive and head of departments were clarifying matters that have been a bone of contention.
“The principle is agreeable. We do need to draw the line so that whatever wrongs happen, it must be directed where it belongs correctly so that there is no hiding behind one another.
“If the executive authority makes attempts to instruct or give unlawful and corrupt directives, the accounting officer must know should they agree, they will be held accountable and there would be consequences for such wrong-doing.
“There would be no hiding behind instruction from executive authority because things will be clearer,” Mchunu said.
His comment was made within the context of the amendment to the Public Service Act to move administrative powers to heads of department in national departments, provincial departments and entities.
“This provides that all administrative powers are placed on heads of department. This approach is crucial to achieving an efficient and professional public service as decision making becomes expedient and efficient if the decision makers are closer to the administration,” read the presentation to the committee.
There have been instances of conflicts and tensions between the executive and the head of department resulting in delegated powers being withdrawn.
The proposed amendments to the Public Administration Management Act (PAMA) provide for the transfer of employees across the spheres of government without the consent of employees where such transfer is operationally justified and after due consideration of representations from the affected employee.
It also clarifies that employees appointed ex-officio on SOE boards are not construed within the scope of the prohibition.
Director-General Yoliswa Makhasi said public servants could not do business with the state and could not receive remuneration for serving on those boards.
“This is an issue that we want to cut across, especially in SOEs,” Makhasi said.
She revealed that the department was working on policy in connection with public servants who occupy leadership positions in parties.
Senior employees in municipalities are prohibited from holding party positions.
“We are currently finalising our policy position and the revised draft will take into account what we received from various players.
“We will definitely include an issue around participation in leadership of political parties. We are just still working on formulation in respect of that issue,” Makhasi added.