The need for the administrative transformation of the Public Service is acknowledged. In transforming and reforming the Public Service, it is vital that the process be guided by a clear, comprehensive and commonly accepted vision of the fundamental principles that should shape the new Public Service.
The post-1994 Public Service faces enormous challenges, both in terms of its own transformation, and in terms of the transformation of the services which it provides to the people of South Africa – a transformation that is guided by the principles of Ubuntu.
The public service
The Public Service should be impartial, transparent, accountable, efficient, effective, non-political, non-partisan, decentralised, diversified and amenable to change and transformation. It must be committed to the pursuit of good governance. The public service is there to serve individual members of the public with care, empathy and courtesy. This service ethic must be strongly instilled in all public servants at all levels.
The Public Service Commission
The Public Service Commission should consider and authorise the requirements and qualification criteria for the holding of any given public office, and should ensure equal opportunity access to all posts. The Commission should devise minimum conditions of employment, salary and remuneration structures, staff evaluation and promotion criteria, grievance and dismissal procedures, and guidelines for orientation programmes and training for all civil servants. There must be strong provincial Public Service Commission structures to facilitate a proper devolution of public service and administration.
Affirmative action in the public service
An affirmative action programme with a specific termination time period should be implemented within the Public Service. It should be a temporary programme with the specific intention of enabling the public service to diversify its human resources, through recruitment, training and promotion, until such time as the demographics of the public service reflect those of the society at large. Subject to the requirements of national security, the public should have access to all information available to government.
State employees in essential services should not have the same rights to strike as other public servants. Essential services personnel should be regarded as professionals dedicated to the security, progress and prosperity of the nation and should be remunerated and rewarded accordingly.
As in the case of federal systems, labour relations should be dealt with at a provincial rather than national level. In a federal system, even centralised bargaining often devolves down to regional forums. The Public Service Commission cannot assume the role of representing the employer while the biggest employers i.e. the provinces, are not included in the collective bargaining process.