PRETORIA - Public Service Minister Ayanda Dlodlo has appealed for the revival of the Batho Pele [people first] principle and ethos in all the services provided to the general public by the State.
"We must support the President [Cyril Ramaphosa] both in word and deed, in his commitment to revive the spirit of service in the public service but most importantly, to position the public service as the public services provider of first choice to our citizens," Dlodlo said at the South African Association of Public Administration and Management (SAAPAM) awards ceremony.
The awards ceremony on Friday was in honour of former Public Service Commission head, Prof. Stan Sangweni and former public service minister and diplomat, Dr. Zola Skweyiya (posthumously) in Pretoria.
"We must always look up to government to provide better services than the private sector. We must provide better water, better quality of water to our people than Valpre and other companies.
"We must provide better services, better goods and products than the private sector. We have the infrastructure, we have the commitment. Let us deliver to our people, especially now in Public Service Month."
Sangweni and Skweyiya were honoured with SAAPAM’s highest recognition, the Lifetime Achievement Award, "for their illustrious public service careers".
The two were respectively tasked with the establishment and functioning of the Public Service Commission and the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) at the dawn of democracy in 1994.
Dlodlo said the public service to which "these two giants laid the first brick in its construction has undoubtedly stood the test" of the many challenges thrown to it by years of apartheid maladministration.
"Today, not only do we boast of a stable and functional public service, but its impact is notably felt by the majority of South Africans in critical areas such as education, health and social security," she said.
"Despite all these achievements over the past 24 years, we remain concerned about the lapses in the Batho Pele ethos that these leaders instilled in the life of the public service. The tragedy of Life Esidimeni will remain an indictment to all those who call themselves public servants in the names of Dr. Skweyiya and Prof Sangweni."
Addressing the same event, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Zweli Mkhize said in honour of astute public servants like Dr. Skweyiya and Prof Sangweni, current day public servants should closely guard against distractions of business interests and greed.
"In the memory of our two leaders, we appeal to our public servants to focus on their work and not be distracted by business interests and greed which threatens the public service and enables corruption to creep in," said Mkhize.
"Our public service must not be captured by anyone, in this era of seeking to control our public service and its vast resources. We must have a public service cadre that is impenetrable and which also does not need enforcement to be productive.
"This is absolutely critical because the pride of nations is the efficiency and predictability of their social, economic and political systems. The public service forms the centrality of such predictability and stability as it must survive any turbulence or changes."
An elated Sangweni, who attended the awards ceremony, said the there were several concerns with standards of governance and the public service.
“The crisis that we are going through in our country, this crisis of corruption, the crisis of paralysis in our systems - that crisis is happening because needs have distorted, we have adulterated, we have contaminated, we have corrupted all those core values and standards of governance," said Sangweni.