Motlanthe: Lack of political leadership hampers service delivery

2012-11-16 10:07

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe has lambasted weak and lacklustre political leadership within government as one of the causes of tensions which exacerbate inefficient service delivery.

Addressing an international conference on public administration and management at the University of Pretoria this morning, Motlanthe pointed to the ANC government’s “inexperience” in governance as one of the reasons the state was finding it difficult to efficiently provide services.

Motlanthe also criticised public servants who accepted bribes and urged public institutions such as Parliament to guard against wasting public money as this caused poor government performance.

He also criticised “short-shrift changes” in leadership at ministerial level, adding that poor organisational design and low staff morale was the cause of much tension between directors-general and their ministers.

Motlanthe said a lack of “connection” between political leadership and public administration and the fact that the new government had no “historical frame of reference” in areas of governance were a source of strain between administrators and political heads.

“This has in some cases led to strained relations between ministers and directors-general, resulting in the high turnover of senior administrative personnel, who take with them invaluable skills needed in public service.

“This loss of rare skills and pivotal institutional memory further constrains the ability of the public service to deliver,” said Motlanthe.

A lack of leadership, weak managerial capacity, poor organisational design, low staff morale, tensions caused by weak political and administrative “interface” had led to the erosion of “accountability and authority”, poor performance and lack of capacity, he said.

The instability at political and administrative level in government was also caused by a “skills deficit and short-shrift changes in leadership, policy and priorities that give rise to instability in leadership”.

Motlanthe said a new culture and ethos of service delivery had to be inculcated into public servants to instil accountability in the public service.

“Accountability in the public service is as important as the transformation of the human resource management principles that underpin work in the public service.

“It requires a mind-set change and an understanding by citizens that they have a right to government services.

“At the same time public servants must understand that they have the duty to provide these services without the expectation of a bribe,” said Motlanthe.

He called on Parliament to provide oversight of rampant waste by holding all government departments accountable for their spending of taxpayers’ money.

“It will be important that institutions such as parliament, provincial legislatures and (municipal) councils that provide oversight, always interrogate whether public resources are allocated and used in accordance with policy priorities,” said Motlanthe.

Parliament must also ensure “efficient spending and value for money”. 

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