Cape Town - The National Planning Commission has strengthened its call for the state to move away from the cadre deployment system, in its revised plan released in Parliament on Wednesday.

The plan states: “Build a professional public service that serves government, but is sufficiently autonomous to be insulated from political patronage.

“This requires a clearer separation between the roles of the political principal and the administrative head.”

Without explicitly naming the ruling party's deployment policy, which has been in place since the late 1990s, the plan states: “In South Africa, the current approach to appointments blurs the lines of accountability.”

It says the current requirement that Cabinet approve the appointment of head of departments makes it unclear whether directors general are accountable to “their minister, to Cabinet, or the ruling party”.

The commission says that after the fall of apartheid, there was good reason to give political principals “wide-ranging influence” over the public service, but suggests this has largely outlived its use.

Almost 20 years later, it says attention must shift to ensuring the public service is adequately equipped to play its part in transforming society.

It proposes that in the case of top-level public servants, “a hybrid approach” reconciling administrative and political imperatives be used.

At a lower level, it advocates a purely administrative approach.

The plan again warns that Parliament's oversight role is far too weak, and calls for it to be strengthened. - Sapa