Public Service Commission Bill is a step in the right direction – Outa

Published Jul 11, 2023


Johannesburg - The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) wants the Public Service Commission Bill to help professionalise the public service and improve transparency.

Asavela Kakaza, Outa’s legal project manager, said their view was that this bill was a step in the right direction when it comes to improving public service.

The commission was set up in terms of section 196 of the Constitution and was required to be independent and impartial, promote the values governing public administration as set out in the Constitution, and promote professional ethics in the public service.

The bill is intended to enable the commission to operate as an independent and impartial constitutional body to improve its effectiveness, and to expand its mandate to include municipalities and public entities. It would replace the existing Public Service Commission Act of 1997.

Outa has submitted comments on the bill to the Office of the Public Service Commission as part of the public participation process on the bill.

“Outa welcomes the bill’s expansion of the mandate of the commission to include municipalities and public entities as there is a dire need to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the public service in those sectors. However, we are concerned that the wording of the bill seems to indicate that implementation of the bill in those sectors is optional, while we believe it should be mandatory,” Kakaza said.

He further said: “To safeguard the independence and impartiality of the commission, those appointed as commissioners should be politically disinterested persons who have not previously held any public office. This is because there have been situations in public service where, to avoid accountability, people in public office are rotated from one department to another. It is not in the public interest to have such persons in the commission.”

He said not only should those convicted of the offences listed in the bill be disqualified from office, but also those with cases pending against them.

Outa would like commissioners to be appointed from non-governmental sectors, such as the legal profession, business, academia and civil society.

Kakaza said it was important that the commission has the power and mechanisms to implement its decisions and recommendations, and not have to rely on other organs of state for this, as was the case under the Public Service Commission Act.

Outa emphasised the importance of transparency and the need for the commission’s reports to be available to the public.