South Africa's Finance Minister Trevor Manuel attends a session at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, in this January 28, 2009 file picture. South Africa is set formally to nominate former Finance Minister Manuel for Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on June 10, 2011, magazine Emerging Markets reported. The magazine cited a "senior and well-placed" source in Pretoria as saying Manuel had won the backing of South Africa President Jacob Zuma and his candidacy would be officially announced on Friday -- the last day for nominations. REUTERS/Pascal Lauener/Files (SWITZERLAND - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS HEADSHOT)

Parliament, Cape Town - State employees and public servants who fail to do their jobs properly must face harsher consequences, Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel said on Tuesday.

“We must raise the consequences for those who do not perform the functions required of them,” he told MPs in the National Assembly, during debate on last week's state-of-the-nation address.

“If teachers get paid, even when they haven't taught our children, it's wrong, and there should be consequences.

“When health-workers make lots of money in the private sector while they are in the employ of the state, where they then report for duty only to rest, there should be consequences.”

The same applied to police officials who avoided being involved in crime prevention.

“And when public servants do business with their employer, there should be very serious consequences,” Manuel said, to loud applause.

Such behavioural change had to come through personal action and the appropriate legislation.

Manuel called for an overhaul of the public service.

“What we must do is commit together to retrain and re-orientate the public service. We need a very different skills set. One that is focused on evidence-based decisions.”

He said Public Service and Administration Minister Lindiwe Sisulu “will detail plans in this regard quite soon”.

On fighting corruption, Manuel said the National Development Plan (NDP) recognised there were problems in the government's supply chain management.

“We must recognise that supply chain management is the Achilles' heel of our democracy.”

Many of the problems experienced were “traceable to the fissures in our supply chain management system”, he said.

On Parliament's role in fighting corruption, he said strengthening accountability “starts here, in this House”.

Referring to the NDP, he quoted what he called its “harsh words” on parliamentary accountability.

“Accountability is essential to democracy. The accountability chain has to be strengthened from top to bottom.

“To begin with, parliamentary accountability is weak, with Parliament failing to fulfil its most basic oversight role,” Manuel said. - Sapa