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Deputy Minister Chana Pilane-Majake: Launch of Africa Public Service Day

20 Jun 2022

Address by the Deputy Minister for the Public Service and Administration, Dr Chana Pilane-Majake, At the launch of Africa Public Service Day

Programme Director,
Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Premier and MECs
Representatives of the AU
Mayors
Faith Based & Traditional Leaders
Directors General, Heads of Departments & All Public Servants present here today,

Programme Director, it is a pleasure for me to be part of this very important event today being presented under the stewardship of the African Union that has rightly identified 2022 as the year dedicated to promotion of food security through public service in Africa under the continental theme: “Building resilience in nutrition and food security on the African continent: Accelerated human capital, social and economic development”. This theme is most appropriate given the challenges experienced in Africa and globally impacting negatively on food security. These challenges are but not limited to:

  • COVID-19 pandemic;
  • climate change in the form droughts, heatwaves, floods; and
  • sky-rocketing grain, oil, and natural gas prices resulting from the “Ukraine-Russia Crisis”.  
     

Focus on Human Capital Development

The African Union’s emphasis on accelerating human capital development on the continent is certainly not misplaced. Human capital development is a determined effort to grow the knowledge, skills and capabilities of all the citizens in society. These efforts have a potential to bring about wider societal benefits through social and economic development leading to increased productivity both in the private and public sector. This is in line with the Africa Agenda 2063, a blueprint for transforming Africa into a global powerhouse. Africa Agenda 2063 is a strategic framework with (7) aspirations each with its own set of goals which, if achieved, will move Africa closer to attaining its vision of prosperous Africa by the year 2063. The Africa we want. These 7 Aspirations reflect our desire for shared prosperity and well-being, for unity and integration, for a continent of free citizens and expanded horizons, where the full potential of women and youth are realised, and with freedom from fear, disease and want. These aspirations must guide the Africa Public Service Day Week-long Engagements.

Aspiration 1: A prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development

Aspiration 2: An integrated continent, politically united and based on the ideals of Pan-Africanism and the vision of Africa’s Renaissance

Aspiration 3: An Africa of good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law

Aspiration 4: A peaceful and secure Africa

Aspiration 5: An Africa with a strong cultural identity, common heritage, shared values and ethics

Aspiration 6: An Africa, whose development is people-driven, relying on the potential of African people, especially its women and youth, and caring for children.

Aspiration 7: Africa as a strong, united, resilient and influential global player and partner. 

The focus of the Africa Service Day theme is in Aspiration 1: Building  a prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development

Africa is determined to eradicate poverty and build shared prosperity through social and economic transformation of the continent. In the background of this ambition is the African Continental Free Trade Agreement that promotes a one prosperous Africa approach to development. The African Continental Free Trade Agreement is an ambitious trade pact to form the world's largest free trade area by connecting almost 1.3bn people across 54 African countries. The agreement aims to create a single market for goods and services in order to deepen the economic integration of Africa. The implication tilts to connection of public service across the continent. Is our public service in SA capable enough to be good player in rolling out this ambitious plan? This is the question we must begin to answer.

Therefore, we need to interrogate Goals of especially aspiration 1 of Agenda 2063: 

Goal number 1 advocates for a high standard of living, quality of life and well-being for all ending poverty, inequalities of income and opportunity; job creation, especially addressing youth unemployment; facing up to the challenges of rapid population growth and urbanization, improvement of habitats and access to basic necessities of life – water, sanitation, electricity; providing social security and protection;

Goal number 2  promotes a well-educated citizens and skills revolutions underpinned by science, technology and innovation

developing Africa’s human and social capital (through an education and skills revolution emphasizing science and technology)

Goal number 3 focus in on healthy and well-nourished citizens - expanding access to quality health care services, particularly for women and girls;

Goal number 4 talks about transformed economies and jobs - transforming Africa’s economies through beneficiation from Africa’s natural resources, manufacturing, industrialization and value addition, as well as raising productivity and competitiveness

Goal number 5 is pretty much pointed to the Africa Public Service Day theme emphasizing modernity in agriculture for increased proactivity and production - radically transforming African agriculture to enable the continent to feed itself and be a major player as a net food exporter;

Goal number 6 is on Blue/Ocean Economy for accelerated economic growth - exploiting the vast potential of Africa’s blue/ocean economy;

Goal number 7 reminds us about the need for environmentally sustainable climate towards resilient economies and communities - putting in place measures to sustainably manage the continent’s rich biodiversity, forests, land and waters and using mainly adaptive measures to address climate change risks.

It is a well-established fact that poorly nourished societies struggle to build human capital, whereas human capital development thrives in well-nourished societies. Food security is therefore essential to Africa’s human capital development and securing the resultant benefits of social and economic growth and development. Food security in Africa must be prioritized.

I therefore urge all South Africans – including our country’s 1,2 million public servants – to stand in solidarity with rest of the continent as we strengthen agriculture and agro-food systems.

Focus of Africa Public Service Day in South Africa

We must stand in solidarity with the rest of the continent of Africa in building social protection mechanisms, accelerating human social and economic development being mindful of our own operational challenges in South Africa as follows.

  • Population explosion that frustrates public service delivery
  • Over pricing of services rendered to government ;
  • Supplier data base that is not talking to real needs on the ground excluding unsophisticated players in agriculture and agro-food processing who can manage to bring about real change in the lives of South Africans
  • uneven public service delivery to citizens across the Public Service specially for almost forgotten remote rural areas in Limpopo; KZN & Easter Cape.
     

As a caring and responsive government, we acknowledge that these national challenges must be addressed as a matter of priority, which is why we are balancing the continental Africa Public Service Day theme for 2022 with our national priorities for the South African Public Service under the theme:

“Rebuilding the State and restoring trust and pride by tackling human capital development challenges for social and economic development”.

This national focus that calls for paradigm shift in terms of government approach to service delivery will help respond to our unique challenges towards human capital development in line with vision 2030 as outlined in the National Development Plan (NDP).

Professionalising the Public Service

From the onset, the NDP has been clear that a capable and developmental state starts with the quality of people who work for the government of SA. These public servants must have appropriate skills, knowledge and competencies in addition to the right attitude to implement government policies efficiently and effectively. This we call professionalization of public service towards realization of a capable state, a framework the DPSA in collaboration with NSG that is still being developed towards this envisaged renewal of public service.

In his address to Public Servants during last year’s Public Service Month, President Ramaphosa emphasized that being in public service demands high level of professionalization, selflessness, commitment, adherence to ethical norms and standards and observance of Batho Pele principles – putting the people first .

Commemoration of Africa Public Service Day will be a week-long programme with key sub-themes. These will be implemented in the form of interactive dialogues between public servants, academics and civil society as follows:

  • Using modernisation and digitisation in the public service to improve on food security;
  • Innovation and incubation hubs for new  entrants in agriculture and agro-food processing;
  • nutrition-smart public service interventions at all levels in public service; 
  • Participation of women and youth in agriculture and agro-food processing;
  • Access to land and public service assistance for players in food security and
  • Strategies to build enforceable accountability mechanisms for officials in fast tracking food security in South Africa.
     

The outcomes of these engagements  should not lead to creation of more and more structures in government that delivers reports that have no ability to change the lives of the masses of the people of South Africa who continue to wait in anticipation. Our next Africa Public Service Day must be in form of a report on progress made on commitments we will have made as public service over this Africa Public Service Day. Commitments by the State and Labour towards the well-being of public service employees should not be overlooked.

In conclusion programme director, rebuilding Africa that is strong, united, resilient and peaceful is non-negotiable. Let us also stand united in the promoting food security for Africa as public servants. The war against corruption by charlatans in the public service has been intensified. Service delivery provisions made across government must be freely and unconditionally available to all South Africans through a criteria that makes it possible to access help. This is a true path to a developmental state that a large number of public servants are committed to regardless the challenges.

Ke ya leboga, Dankie, Enkosi.

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