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PSC lambasts poor government ethics and service delivery

The Public Service Commission (PSC) has highlighted the shortcomings of the government in service delivery, non-payment of suppliers, professionalisation and corruption and mismanagement in the public service.

Speaking to the media on Wednesday during the launch of its quarterly bulletin, the Pulse of the Public Service, which covers the period 1 January to 31 March, commissioner Michael Seloane said that as the custodian of good governance, the PSC was concerned about ethics being overlooked in government.

“The PSC has observed that a number of government departments take longer in reporting cases of corruption, even after having received information from whistleblowers. We have also observed that departments don’t approach the issue of corruption in a holistic manner. There is pure impunity, and ethics are not being applied anymore. Government must re-align the ethics and values of anti-corruption units within departments,” he said.   

“We are of the view that professionalisation of the public sphere would also contribute towards the behavioural change and sensitise all employees in government institutions about the institutional requirements of them and also what they would be contravening by their action or inaction,” he added.

The commission also expressed disappointment about how service delivery and related matters were handled by the government. 

“The nine principles of the section 195 process are there to help guide the public service towards great responsiveness, accessibility and transparency for the benefit of citizens, ensuring that the voices of the public are heard and their needs are considered during the delivery of services,” said Seloane. 

The commission derives its mandate from section 195 and 196 of the Constitution. 

According to the report, the government had failed to deal with issues related to service delivery in most parts of the country and did not have sufficient mechanisms in place for redress. 

“Government is seen to be failing to address issues of noncompliance and non-responsiveness. In this regard as part of upholding good governance, citizens should be provided with mechanisms to complain, get appropriate redress or be informed about alternative recourse,” the report states.

On the issue of the delayed or non-payment of government suppliers the report says this goes against government policies and principles enshrined in the Constitution, particularly where most of the suppliers are small businesses and from previously disadvantaged backgrounds.

“The payment of supplies within 30 days is both a statutory requirement and a standard of professional ethics governing public administration. When invoices of suppliers are not paid on time their businesses are negatively hugely impacted; this results in most small businesses becoming bankrupt and job losses occur,” the report notes. 

Commissioner Bruno Luthuli told the briefing that the PSC was also concerned about increasing complaints of the politicisation of official roles.  

“The PSC from its formation has a role of ensuring that service delivery takes place in the public service. We have found a problem with recruitment in government, there is politicisation of official roles. Administrators get a lot of political influence when vacancies are available. Those are some of the many behaviors we want to deal with,” he said.

“There is still a big problem with professionalisation of our public service, from entry level to the top.”

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Chris Gilili
Chris Gilili is a climate and environmental journalist at the Mail & Guardian’s environmental unit, covering socioeconomic issues and general news. Previously, he was a fellow at amaBhungane, the centre for investigative journalism.

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