Public Service Commission - News
TELLING IT LIKE IT IS
Face to Face with the D G
The Office of the PSC, easily referred to as the OPSC, comprises civil servants
who provide operational and administrative support to the Commission. PSCnews
had an opportunity to speak to the Director-General of the OPSC, Mr Mpume Sikhosana,
and got to know and understand the person at the helm of this unit, his vision,
assessment and approach to the positioning of the PSC.
Traversing the Road From Civic Affairs to Civil Service
Mr Sikhosana joined the OPSC as Director-General (commonly abbreviated to "DG")
at the beginning of last year. He has worked for the old Public Service Commission
from 1994, first as a consultant, thereafter as Chief Director, and later a
Deputy Director-General with the post-apartheid reformed Department of Public
Service and Administration. (The DPSA and the current PSC were born from the
unbundling, in 1996, of the old PSC.)
Upon qualifying as an Industrial Psychologist he did a lot of voluntary work
within the political and trade union movements, on job evaluation and grading.
Together with a fellow Industrial Psychologist, they also ran workshops for
shop stewards on a range of issues as part of the Trade Union Research Project
at the University of Natal. The services were free of charge, but, as Mr Sikhosana
puts it, "the level of satisfaction has never been surpassed by any material
rewards I've received since I started working."
Defining Today's PSC and Shaping its future
Since taking up office in January 2000, Mr Sikhosana has worked non-stop and
tirelessly to prepare the groundwork for the PSC to deal with challenges of
the 21st Century and to position it strategically within the public service.
This restructuring process had begun with the inception of a transformed PSC
in July 1999. The DG has succeeded in that endeavour, but more work still lies
Mr Sikhosana disclosed to PSC news that since he came to office, effective
working relationships between the Office (OPSC) and the Commission (PSC) as
a single organization have been improved. Furthermore, cohesive arrangements
have been put in place to limit bureaucratic bottlenecks and speed up workflow
in the organization. More meaningful roles for the nine Regional Offices of
the PSC have also been defined. The Office has also made significant improvements
on the information technology front.
Mr Sikhosana stressed that a future niche for the PSC lies in it being a knowledge-based
learning organization responsible for collecting information, synthesizing it
and making it available to all stakeholders in an accessible way. Therefore,
the biggest task for the PSC, he asserts, is to make available a proper mirror
of the public service and to prescribe necessary interventions from the level
of the President, to politicians in parliament, and that of government departments.
The challenge in this regard is to retool personnel with necessary skills -
policy analysis, research, and so forth - to perform in accordance with the
The battle to defeat corruption in the country has hitherto been one of the
key activities and contribution of the PSC. On this anti-corruption front, Mr
Sikhosana says: "We have worked tirelessly to carry out the mandate of
the National Anti Corruption Summit, to form the National Anti-Corruption Forum
which unites government, private and civil society in the fight against corruption.
We are managing the Asset Register and monitoring its developments. Having said
that, I would like to believe that the PSC is really making an impact on anti-corruption
despite its limited mandate and lack of sufficient capacity."
He pointed out that the PSC would in future concentrate more on monitoring
rather than corruption combating, because there are many agencies that are properly
resourced to deal with the combating of corruption.
Part of the mandate of the PSC is to conduct investigations, monitor and evaluate
compliance of departments to government policies, and then compile reports that
spell out problems and recommendations for correction.
On the issue of PSC reports the DG says that the PSC is producing excellent
reports, which have an impact on the public service. The process of monitoring
whether departments are implementing PSC recommendations has already started.
He, nevertheless, acknowledged that the PSC has since discovered that some departments
do not implement its recommendations. The solution in this regard, is "not
to seek legislation that will give us 'teeth' to act on those departments that
do not implement our recommendations," Mr Sikhosana pronounces. "Rather,
it is to become credible and respected so that departments can act on our advice."
One of the gains of a democratic South Africa is the recognition of women to
play more meaningful roles in all facets of society, including the workplace.
On the issue of gender representativeness, Mr Sikhosana says that the PSC is
on target, although it could still do better. He stressed that women and people
with disability have a place in the Public Service Commission. Asked why other
departments, particularly in provinces, are still lagging behind in terms of
gender representativeness, Mr Sikhosana says that the problem could possibly
be attributed to the historical under-investment on women and people with disability
in general during the apartheid era.
What does the next five years hold for the PSC? "I would like to see the
Commission increasing its relevance regarding reporting on the state of the
public service as well as concentrating more on monitoring and evaluation of
public administration practices," the DG concludes.
Article compiled by Yvonne Mogadime