26 April 2010
The delivery of services to South Africa’s people dominated discussions between President Jacob Zuma and his top management in Johannesburg on Friday.
In a frank engagement, Zuma told his top management that poor service delivery would no longer be able to be blamed on apartheid after two decades of democracy.
“After two decades we will not be able to make an excuse if we do not deliver faster change in the lives of our people,” Zuma told directors-general and deputy directors-general from national and provincial government.
“We will not be able to blame apartheid if villages still have no water, no electricity, no roads. We will not be able to blame anyone else if children still study under trees, if houses and schools are falling apart.”
Improving work ethic
Zuma said his administration took every service delivery protest seriously, adding that they would investigate how they could improve the pace and quality of delivery in affected areas.
Government officials, Zuma said, also needed to change their attitude and improve their work ethic in order for the country to see change. He stated plainly that some of officials did not respect the jobs they were employed to perform.
“We all know that the failures in our government are not mainly caused by any significant lack of capacity, nor are they caused by poor education … The simple truth is that we lack accountability.”
He said what the country needed was a new breed of public servant – a public servant who respected citizens, who valued public resources, who came to work on time and performed their duties diligently.
Public liaison officers
Zuma added that work done on director-general level might be escalated, with directors-general becoming more like principal public liaison officers so that the government could receive quicker responses – a view he said would engage directors-general on.
“We do not want to rely on reports from the public service only; we want to see first-hand what is happening where our people live … This means directors-general and deputy directors-general should be visible on the ground from time to time and not be completely desk-bound.”
Public Service and Administration Minister Richard Baloyi echoed Zuma, saying the goverment’s top management should be the “commanders of service delivery”, at all time ready to listen, to serve and to account to the people of the country.