If you fail, you won’t get the boot, ministers told

All government ministers have now signed formal performance contracts with President Jacob Zuma; but if they fail to deliver, they need not fear getting the boot.

A presidency official told the Mail & Guardian that these documents will give ministers clarity on what they should do and on what outcomes they will be measured, but if they fail to live up to expectations, their jobs will still be safe.

Monitoring and Evaluation Minister Collins Chabane (who also runs the presidency) gave his colleagues further assurances when he declared during the presidency’s budget debate in Parliament that “the performance agreement is to serve as a management tool and not as a punitive mechanism”.

Another presidency official told the M&G: “I don’t think the president on the basis of this will decide to redeploy people. The idea is to help ministers do their job.”

Performance agreements between Cabinet ministers and the president have been signed during the past few weeks. They focus on departmental priorities. The basic education minister would, for example, agree to a matric pass rate target to be reached within three years. Steps to achieve this will be outlined in delivery agreements, which are decided upon by the minister, provincial ministers, civil society and labour unions.

These agreements are being hammered out at all levels of government and will be presented to the July Cabinet lekgotla.

Delivery agreements will form the backbone of the budget process and eliminate circumstances where departments ask for wild amounts of money from government without having a clue about how to spend it.

Planning Minister Trevor Manuel told reporters last week that during his tenure as finance minister the request for cash from departments would be five times as much as the money available, because of the lack of proper planning.

Chabane, who has the twin jobs of running a full department and the presidency, will appoint various “outcome specialists” who will check the progress of these delivery agreements and anticipate problems before they happen, as well as evaluate the technical achievements of ministers. They will be drawn from specific relevant fields.

Chabane will have to do all this with just R30-million — the smallest budget for any department.

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Mandy Rossouw
Guest Author

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