President Cyril Ramaphosa said the vast majority of public servants are ethical, principled and working hard to serve the citizens of South Africa.
He said it is important to acknowledge public servants who carry out their duties,, especially at a time when the public service has come under a lot of scrutiny.
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“The professionalism of these hardworking, ethical and principled public servants keeps our country afloat, and their good work brings hope to our people. At a time when shortcomings in the public service are amplified and bad news falls like an avalanche, we acknowledge our public servants of South Africa and their service.
“It may be said that they are just doing what they are paid to do. But public service is a calling – one to which they have ably responded in order that the rights of all people in this country are fulfilled,” he said.
The President acknowledged that there remains a cohort of civil servants who have erred away from serving the interests of South Africans.
“Over the course of time, public servants in our country have come to be in the spotlight for the wrong reasons. We have become too used to stories of civil servants involved in maladministration, embezzlement, corruption and other forms of conduct that betray the values of the public service.”
He added however, that such public servants remain in the minority.
“While much is made of those that are errant and unprincipled, the vast majority of public servants understand the weight of responsibility their positions entail, and discharge their duties faithfully. During this Public Service Month (September), we pay tribute to the many public servants who continue to make a positive difference in our country every day, and whose actions and performance embodies the principle of Batho Pele, of ‘putting people first’.”
President Ramaphosa added that his administration is on course to realising the transformation of the public service into a professional service with public servants whose interest is in serving the nation.
“We have set ourselves the challenge of building a capable, ethical state. We remain firmly on course towards professionalising the public service and transforming it into a group of men and women who are able and committed to serving our people and their interests,” the President said.
He said the outbreak and continued fight against the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates that there are many public servants who carry out their duties capably and with commitment.
“Since the outbreak of the pandemic, civil servants have displayed courage and resilience in discharging their duties, often under the most difficult of circumstances. Despite the disruptions caused by the pandemic, they have kept the wheels of our country turning and have ensured that service delivery continued.”
The President praised frontline government workers who carry out their duties despite facing challenges.
“Frontline health personnel have made sure that the ill are attended to. Members of the South African Police Service have continued to serve and protect our communities. Teachers have continued to care for and educate our learners. Officials in government offices have ensured that our people continue to receive services.”
The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic had brought many lessons to the fore.
“COVID-19 has exposed the chasms between the planning and execution of public service delivery; and the reality of government departments’ still working in silos when they should be working together in a seamless, development-orientated manner. At the same time, COVID-19 has shown us what is possible if we work in a coordinated manner and manage resources effectively and efficiently,” the President said.
President Ramaphosa said the District Development Model currently being rolled out in parts of the country aims to ensure that public servants are focussed on executing their duties seamlessly.
“This adaptive service delivery model…is precisely what the Batho Pele White Paper compels us to do: establish a citizen centred Public Service that is seamless, adaptive, and responsive. We call on public servants to be part of this process by identifying ways in which we can realise a public service focused on meeting the needs and advancing the interests of citizens,” he said.
The President said his administration remains committed to serving the people of South Africa.
“Our commitment to building a ethical state, capable and above all developmental necessitates that civil servants see themselves not merely as state functionaries but as development workers,” said President Ramaphosa.