Introductory Remarks by Prof SS Sangweni: on the Occasion of the Signing of the Public Service Pledge at the Premiers Service Excellence Awards Ceremony: 9 December 2005

The Public Service Commission, as you are aware, is required by the Constitution to promote professional ethics in the public service. In pursuance of this mandate, the Commission has engaged itself on own accord and at the request of Cabinet in a number of initiatives in the promotion of professional ethics and the fight against corruption. In doing so the Commission has formed part of strategic partnerships that involve all sectors of our society. It is of utmost importance that there is visible commitment to engage with corruption in the public service and promote a professional ethos in the system.

We are therefore grateful and delighted that the Premier deemed it fit to facilitate the signing of the Public Service Pledge at the Premiers Service Excellence Awards Ceremony as a mark of commitment to leadership in spearheading the campaign for integrity and service delivery in the Province. This is the more significant coming as it does shortly after the historic signing of the Pledge by all the National and Provincial Administrations Directors General at their recent FOSAD meeting at Mount Grace Hotel, Magaliesburg, on the 2nd of December 2005.

The Public Service Pledge itself emanated from the implementation of the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Programme by the Anti-Corruption Co-ordinating Committee (ACCC). The motivation behind this is to galvanize public servants across the public service system to pledge themselves to perform their tasks in the public interest and to do this with integrity, creativity and innovation.

It is perhaps appropriate to recall here one of the resolutions adopted at the Second National Anti-Corruption Summit held in March 2005 in Pretoria. The first resolution adopted by the Summit under the : Ethics, Awareness and Prevention Strategy reads thus:

To promote leadership in all sectors of society that is committed to the creation of a culture of integrity and to restore confidence in the fight against corruption.

I would like to believe that the signing of the Pledge this evening is indeed more than a symbolic creation of a culture of integrity in our civil service community in the Kwazulu Natal Province.

After the signing of the Pledge by the Heads of Department here tonight, it is of utmost importance that this commitment be cascaded downwards to all officials. You are committing yourselves to that task this evening.

It may be fortuitous that the International Anti-Corruption Day is celebrated today, the 9th December 2005. It is therefore proper and fitting that on this historic day we enlist the commitment of all our staff members to a culture of integrity and excellence in service to all our people.

We cannot overlook that the signing of the Public Service Pledge comes so soon after the launch of your own Citizens Charter, an initiative for which I would like to congratulate your Premier, Dr Sbu Ndebele and your Cabinet. The Charter contains a unique set of service delivery standards created for the Province. I cannot resist making one or two comments on these:-

  • Service Standards: In your statement of commitment you promise citizens they will be told what levels of service they can expect from you. This is transparent and will assist citizens in the exercise of their rights. I am particularly impressed by your commitment to comply 100% with all regulations with respect to your standards of service delivery. Corruption by its very nature begins to creep in when officials flout one or more of the regulations in any department.
  • Secondly, I am impressed as well by your commitment to afford citizens 100% compliance with the Promotion of Access to Information Act. I particularly mention this for two reasons: As a transparent government, transparency needs to be seen before it is believed you are therefore consistent with the Constitution. Recently, a study by the Open Democracy Advice Centre (ODAC) in Cape Town found that government departments in particular responded poorly to requests for information under this Act (61% of public bodies sampled to provide information did not acknowledge receipt of the requests, only 39% responded!). I am therefore encouraged that you have taken this stance. Unfortunately time does not permit me to select others but overall the approach to citizens as customers is a great step forward which I hope will bear much fruit in our beautiful province.
Thank you once again to you Mr Premier, Cabinet members and Heads of Department for the opportunity afforded us today for this signing ceremony. May the commitment of today become a burning flame not only for you, but for all your colleagues in your respective departments. Only then will we begin to realize the principle of Batho Pele putting the public interest first!



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