A task team of directors general (DGs) of government departments have briefed President Jacob Zuma on the work that they are doing to solve problems identified by the President in a meeting with his DGs in April.
Zuma afterwards in a statement said the “DGs understand what we are trying to do, and that is important because they run the government departments that must get the work done. The Deputy President, ministers, premiers and I depend on them to implement what we want to be done to improve the quality of life of our people. We do not have much time. Soon, the public should see and feel the difference in the way government works. I am satisfied that the DGs understand the urgency in this regard.”
According to the news release, Zuma reminded the DGs that the features of the fourth democratic administration are improved planning, performance monitoring and evaluation, as well as building a caring and accessible government. “The experience of government for most people is a frustrating one and that should not be the case. People wait for long hours for services in hospitals, pension pay points, municipalities and other service points. Since we have highly skilled managers, budgets and other resources, what is the problem? Why is the public service not working in an efficient, effective and caring manner as it should,” the President asked the DGs at the meeting in Cape Town.
He also cautioned against the excessive use of consultants in government. “We appoint people on merit on the basis that they say they know the work they have applied for. As soon as they join the department, they employ consultants and government has to pay huge sums of money. This cannot be allowed to continue.” He emphasised that the local government sphere should not be neglected in the government renewal exercise as there is a lot of work that must be done to improve the functioning of municipalities.
President Zuma urged the DGs to continue the good work of fighting corruption within government.
A multi-agency working group which includes SARS, the Financial Intelligence Centre, the Auditor-General, the Special Investigating Unit and SA Police Service are working on preventative as well as enforcement measures to deal with procurement-related corruption within government. This is one of many interventions that government has put in place already.
Government will continue to work with labour to improve the working conditions generally and the shortage of staff in some sectors of the public service, for example health, education and others, Zuma avered. The next meeting will take place in January after the Cabinet Lekgotla.
Seperately, Public Service and Administration Minister Richard Baloyi said government will not stand for unsatisfactory performance from officials. “This administration will not tolerate officials who do not want to do their work and yet get paid every month,” the minister said at the Public Protector Commonwealth Good Governance conference in Pretoria.
The state BuaNews agency adds he said government will not become a refuge for lazy people. “Those who are entrusted with the responsibility and privilege of public service should exercise that with seriousness and humility… They should always remember that they are there to serve the people. If they fail, they should be held to account,” he said.
Ministers and other stakeholders are in the process of signing delivery agreements, which will hold them to various commitments to bring services to the people. The agreements are detailed and provide descriptions of key activities – who needs to do what, by when and the resources needed to deliver on a particular service delivery outcome.
Baloyi said the signing of agreements was part of government’s plan to do things differently.
“The steps we have taken mark the beginning of a journey towards good governance and improved government performance… For the first time, people will be judged against clear indicators whether they have done their jobs or not,” he said.