Address by Mr Bantu Holomisa, MP in the Parliamentary Debate: Budget Vote 12 Public Service and Administration (22 May 2013)

Chairperson, Honourable Minister and Deputy Minister and Honourable Members,

The UDM supports Budget Vote 12.

We have noted the concerns of the public about the low levels of competence in our civil service and are encouraged by the Minister’s attempts to address this problem and thus professionalise the civil service.

We have also noted government threats that it is going to deal decisively with civil servants who are not doing their jobs.

We hope the Minister will make use of the powers given to her by the Public Service Act to turnaround public administration. In this regard, the Public Service Commission has an important role to play in ensuring that this professionalisation happens and that suitably qualified people are appointed.

For some time now civil servants have been appointed into positions without regard for their competence and suitability for the jobs. These people then often use government departments as employment agencies for their ethnic groups. For example, it is not uncommon to find that when Ministers are Xhosa they turn their departments into Xhosa land and when they are Indian Ministers they turn their departments into an Indian Ocean, and so on.

It is also common in the current government to appoint people who have not made it into the National Assembly list as advisers to state departments, even though they might be clueless about their work.

To address this problem, the office of the President together with the Public Service Commission should ensure that Ministers do not have the final say on who becomes their Directors General and advisers. This is important if we are to win the fight against nepotism and corruption.

In addition, the appointment of inappropriately qualified people discourages many who regard civil service as a career. I have come across many senior officials who lack the requisite knowledge, training and experience to run departments. Often these officials have not even undergone basic training in Induction Courses, Supervision and Management, Accounting as well as Human Resources Management.

To address this problem, the Minister has to, among other things, invest in the development of suitably qualified Work Study Officers for all departments. Such a step would boost employee morale as Work Study Officers would have pertinent insight in employee performance and departmental structural issues and would also play an important role during salary negotiations.

Finally, the Minister would have failed in her duties if she does not restore the powers of Directors General as accounting officers.

We have seen how political directives have created mayhem in the entire tender system.

Thank you.