Vote 11, 7 & 12: Public Service and Administration (National School of Government and Public Service Commission) MINI PLENARIES (VIRTUAL) 16:30 – 18:45

Hon. R Cebekhulu

Honourable Members, the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic has placed an immense economic strain on our resources. However, it cannot be used as an excuse for failing to use available Government funds effectively and economically, as our Government is constitutionally mandated to do.

We therefore need to carefully analyse how these resources are used to serve the public in these strenuous times.

The National School of Governance’s funding has been severely impacted by the pandemic. The NSG’s education, training and development initiatives fulfil an important role in providing public servants with desperately needed human resource skills. According to the Auditor-General’s 2019-2020 Consolidated General Report, the Human Resource Management of 39% of Government Departments was still of concern. We therefore cannot allow the NSG’s training programmes to be compromised. The IFP therefore supports the Committee’s recommendation that the NSG should continue to engage National Treasury on exploring alternative funding models and especially use e-online resources effectively and efficiently to provide their training programmes.

Honourable Members, turning to the Annual Performance Plan and Budget of the Department of Public Service and Administration – we need to remind ourselves of this Department’s mandate yet again.  The Department is mandated to put in place mechanisms and structures to support departments and, importantly, develop their professional ethos. However, the Department is glaringly slow to put in place such mechanisms and structures. The Department has been assigned to develop guidelines for lifestyle audits in the public service. The development of such guidelines has been talked about for years. This was already a subject of discussion in the debate on the State of the Nation Address in Parliament in 2018. This cannot simply be further delayed. Finalising these guidelines must be a top priority. The IFP therefore fully supports the Committee’s recommendation that the Department should present their progress reports before March 2022. We further support the Committee’s recommendation that the Department should finalise the second phase of regulations on the Public Administration Act of 2014. This sluggish progress in effective legislative changes and developing policies cannot be accepted.

Honourable Members, the Public Service Commission’s custodial oversight of Public Service is critical in ensuring that public administration adheres to constitutional principles. It is therefore imperative that the draft Public Service Commission Bill, which was recently published by the Minister for public comment, should be fast-tracked. The IFP also fully supports the Committee’s recommendation that the Public Service Commission should be more proactive, and should put in place a system to monitor adherence to prescripts relating to the appointment and recruitment of personnel in the public service.

Honourable Members, we need to remind ourselves that the cost of corruption and misgovernance is felt the deepest by our most vulnerable citizens, who are highly dependent on a functioning Government for the most basic services. We cannot allow any loopholes in enforcing accountability in the public sector.

The IFP fully supports Budget Votes 7, 11 and 12.