National Treasury Director-General Lungisa Fuzile stint in government, spanning 19 years, ends on Monday.
Speaking at the UCT Graduate School of Business last night, Fuzile reflected on his time at treasury.
"After 19 years of being in government I will be very happy to watch government from the outside, available of course, to give advice should someone need it. I hope it will not be my successor," he said.
Fuzile was in conversation with UCT GSB director and associate professor Mills Soko.
When asked by Soko how he would describe the institutional culture and ethos of the National Treasury and how it has contributed to its success.
Fuzile said there were several things required to build a successful organisation.
He said one of the cultures he learnt very early at National Treasury over the years was that "if you have an idea, never feel that it is a bad idea, put it forward, motivate why you have the idea. So any idea for as long as it is genuinely held is worth being considered, and of course be prepared to hear other people’s ideas some of which may differ materially from yours in a number of ways."
Fuzile added that professionals want an environment that is run professionally and there must not be any signs that leadership is disrespectful of professionals and their place in the functioning of an institution.
He said one of the logical parts of the constitution is that you always refer to the relevant law and make sure you adhere to it, make sure you are safe and one's advice is safe.
"Law is very important in the civil service, it is the civil uniform. What's also important is to instill a culture that if you perform, if you do your best, that gets recognised not only in terms of being rewarded by getting a bonus but also in terms of getting promoted and you don't have to know someone to advance in an institution. The people that I grew under when I joined the Treasury did not know me from a bar of soap, yes we shared the same values, the same principles but all I did during the time I was there was to work hard."
Around the culture of intellectual engagement and whether that culture would last, Fuzile said any culture that is founded on good values and good principles does not get copied easily but is a test for those who join as they will feel out of place.
Fuzile said the ratings agency's would frown at South Africa if the country's department ratios looked bad.
" As South Africans we want our economy to grow and grow fast, grow in a way that creates opportunities for business big and small, in ways that create work opportunities for work seekers young and old so that you can improve the distribution of income. Rating agencies also care about those things because a growing economy delivers revenue which allows a country to be able to fund its operations without in-debting itself, so why do we have a problem with that?"