Cabinet approves bills ‘to strengthen public service’

2013-05-30 12:55

Cabinet has approved two bills aimed at streamlining and strengthening the public service, Public Service and Administration Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has said.

At its regular fortnightly Wednesday meeting, the executive had accepted amendments to the draft Public Administration Management Bill, which would now be published for comment, she told journalists at Parliament today.

“The draft bill seeks to create a uniform legal framework for human resources and certain organisational and governance matters in national, provincial, and municipal administrations.”

It was part of government’s aim to improve service delivery by standardising the public administration.

Cabinet also approved the draft Public Service Commission Amendment Bill for public comment, which seeks to enhance the powers of the commission.

This was in response to the call in the National Development Plan for a stronger role for the commission.

The NDP stresses the importance of a more professional public service.

Sisulu said the PSC was constitutionally mandated to oversee, monitor, and give direction.

“Those [constitutional] directives we have now interpreted to mean they will now have authority to give directives. That was never factored into the legislation.”

The PSC had been “battling to actually get the executive authority of any other institution it was dealing with to take their directions as given, and therefore mandatory to comply with”.

There had been “no enforcement capacity”, Sisulu said.

Responding to a question on the scope of this capacity, she said the PSC could “only give directives in relation to those values within the public service that are very clearly spelled out in the Constitution, and are within their right and responsibility”.

Sisulu said she foresaw no “conflict of responsibilities” between the PSC and national government.

Government’s long-standing plan to create a single public service has been politically controversial.

It was seen by some as an attempt to secure centralised control of local and provincial government structures amid poll gains in recent years by the Democratic Alliance.

The redrafted bill approved this week has silenced much of the criticism because it focuses more on creating uniform work conditions and requirements across all three levels of government.

On whether the new legislation would address the problem of municipal employees facing disciplinary action – but leaving the employ of a municipality before such action was taken, and then becoming re-employed at another municipality – Sisulu said it would.

The draft legislation sought to establish a central database of employees, which could be used to track disciplinary procedures.

“We’re hoping this will be one of the spin-offs out of [this legislation],” Sisulu said.

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