Media statement on amended guide for members of the executive and measures taken to ensure good governance in the public service
Good day, ladies and gentlemen from the media and thank you for making time to attend this session.
As the 6th Administration, we are confronted by a number of challenges arising from our shrinking fiscus. Ever since we assumed office, we have been looking at ways in which we can improve governance, from fiscal discipline to ensure that ethical conduct becomes an apex priority and a characteristic of this administration, under the leadership of President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Commemoration of Anti-corruption Day
The commemoration of International Anti-Corruption Day (IACD) takes place at an appropriate time in our country as we are recommitting ourselves to fighting corruption, which is fast becoming one of the impediments to our drive to consolidate the gains of democracy.
The IACD is celebrated annually on 9 December in recognition of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), which was signed in Mexico in 2003. South Africa is one of the signatories to the Convention and ratified it in 2004. This year's theme is 'United Against Corruption: Building a Culture of Accountability for Sustainable Development.'
South Africa has to make a shift towards observing ethics and combat corruption, both in the public and private sector. Corruption remains a major contributor to economic decline and ultimate social chaos and therefore it is even more important for South Africa to act swiftly against the scourge.
Amended Guide for Members of the Executive
In line with the need to be circumspect on the fiscal constraints we find ourselves in and to ensure fiscal prudence, Cabinet referred the Guide for Members of the Executive back to a committee of Ministers comprising the Minister of Finance, Public Works and Infrastructure and the Public Service and Administration to revisit certain aspects in the Guide for Members of the Executive (the Guide) to curb costs, while not compromising Government operations. The further changes to the Guide include:
On the procurement of official vehicles, the cost of the vehicles is limited to R700 000, 00 inclusive of VAT, maintenance plans and security extras;
Members and their spouses travelling by air transport must travel in economy class for all official domestic travel as well as for international travel where the travel time is less than two hours;
The State shall not bear any costs in respect of security upgrades done at the Member's private residence;
The rental for cellular telephones, as well as the cost of official calls, is subject to an annual limitation of R60 000.00;
Staff in support of a Member's Office, excluding household aides, has been reduced as follows:
Minister - 13 to 7;
Deputy Minister - 9 to 5;
Premier - 12 to 7;
MEC - 12 to 5.
In respect of water and electricity, the State's contribution will be limited to R5 000.00 per month per State-owned Residence. No contribution will be made in respect of private residences. No cleaning materials, equipment and chemicals will be provided to residences. Members shall be responsible for all the costs related to domestic workers in the personal employ of the Member;
Travel by a spouse for official domestic trips is now limited to six (6) domestic economy class travel trips per financial year if the Member is required to attend official duties accompanied by a spouse or adult family member;
Additional flight tickets for Member's private use is reduced from 30 (thirty) to 20 (twenty) single economy class tickets for use by the Member or the Member's spouse;
Departments shall not be responsible for the cost of gratuities and reading material for both the Member and the spouse;
The continued benefits for members upon relinquishing office is reduced to one calendar month;
A member is permitted to occupy one State-owned residence for free of charge and where a member occupies a second state-owned residence, then the Member is required to pay a rental and is personally responsible for the related tax implication
It is envisaged that similar changes will take place to cut these costs in the Public Service and the public sector in general, including Mayors, Executive Committees, Directors General and state-owned entities.
We are in a period that requires us to make difficult and complex decisions above our own in the national interest. Government is operating in an ever more complex and demanding environment, more so with regards to the fiscus. We are facing increasingly interdependent problems and are having to adjust to both the challenges as they present themselves. Our approach to addressing the national budget and deficit has to be collective in nature, whilst adopting a holistic approach that yields substantial and coherent gains that are sustainable over time.
We need to look at the problem holistically by looking at efficiencies in how Government is structured, the cost of administration and leakages, so as to create sustainable long term solutions. The current challenges must not manifest in the future because we have failed to address the root causes - only the symptoms.
As the Executive, we believe that we must act with unity and resolve in addressing the fiscal problems facing South Africa. We acknowledge that we must lead by example and demonstrate our commitment to addressing the problem of the country's finances. We have taken the position of a freeze in our salaries and have also significantly reduced the benefits to the Executive in terms of personnel in Executive Offices, travel, accommodation and security benefits, among others. We will be engaging with the Minister of Finance, the relevant Ministers of all entities, the relevant national and provincial legislatures and Judiciary which all derive budgets from the fiscus to extend similar restrictions to their members and employees.
Addressing leakages in the cost of Public Administration.
The cost of public administration has multiple complex elements, including not exclusively limited to people, processes and systems. The Committee of Ministers has identified the following leaks in the cost of public administration, which is untenable:
Unauthorised, irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure:
As identified by the Auditor General South Africa (AGSA), unauthorised, irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure is not abating and that there is very little consequence management. We will be engaging with the AGSA, National Treasury and the relevant Executive to investigate each case and charge the implicated officials and service providers. Efforts must also be made to recover all monies.
Some government institutions are engaging in intergovernmental litigation and wasteful or unnecessary litigation, which adds to government expenditure. The State is also losing money through litigation, especially in the following sectors:
- Health: through medico legal claims
- Security: Wrongful detention, death in detention, shooting and motor vehicle accidents
- Home Affairs: Civil rights related to citizenship, identity and immigration
As the State, we have neither optimally leveraged growth and advances in technology, nor economies of scale cohesively and effectively - resulting in government lagging in ICT and not procuring and developing systems in a fragmented manner that increases costs, duplications development times.
Government leases, rentals, maintenance and refurbishment:
There is room to re-examine above to contain spending by reducing rental and other costs, while improving the state and condition of our buildings.
We also have a responsibility to restore confidence in the public by employing public servants with impeccable record of good governance since they are entrusted with managing public finances. It is against this background that I have since written to the Premier of the Eastern Cape, Mr Oscar Mabuyane, to consider the legal implications of appointing a head of department in the province who was dismissed as Deputy Director-General from the National Department.
Having regard to section 17(4)(a) of the Public Service Act, an employee who is dismissed for misconduct in terms of section 17(2)(d) of the Public Service Act may only be re-employed by any department, including a provincial department, after the expiry of the prescribed period. Section 17(4)(b) of the Public Service Act further provides that different periods may be so prescribed for different categories of misconduct. The prescribed periods envisaged in section 17(4)(a) and (b) of the Public Service Act are contained in regulation 61 of the Public Service Regulations, 2016.
Establishing new National Governing Council of the African Peer Review Mechanism
Government, in partnership with Civil Society, will hold a two-day session from tomorrow, 10 December 2019 to begin the process of establishing South Africa's new National Governing Council of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM).
The formation of the National Governing Council (NGC) will pave the way in preparing for the country's Second Generation Review taking off in 2020.
The new NGC will be expected to lead the country's self-assessment process and ensures its credibility; and ultimately produces the Country Self- Assessment Report (CSAR) in the end of the process for the APRM.
The NGC structure is at the core of the functioning and success of the country's APRM, as its key role is to mobilise and ensure participation of all stakeholders and citizens in general to the APRM processes.
The structure is comprised of representatives and key stakeholders from government; civil society; private sector; marginalised communities and organisations representing women, youth and people with disabilities.
The APRM, formed in 2003, is a mutually agreed instrument voluntarily acceded to by African Union (AU) Member States as an African self-monitoring mechanism to foster good governance in the continent through a systematic peer learning and self-assessment mechanism.
Its primary purpose is to foster the adoption of policies, standards and practices that lead to political stability, high economic growth, sustainable development and accelerated sub-regional and continental economic integration through sharing of experiences and reinforcement of successful and best practice, including identifying deficiencies and assessing the needs for capacity building.
Issued by: Department of Public Service and Administration