Madonsela calls for impartiality

Pretoria - Fairness when dealing with employees is pivotal in improving efficiency in the public service, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela said in Pretoria on Wednesday.

She told reporters at the government leadership summit that disciplinary measures should be applied fairly across the board, with none excluded.

"Whatever the plan, it must apply right across the board. It shouldn’t have any eyes, it shouldn’t have any colour," she said.

"If we say when one does certain things, one must be rewarded, everyone who does those certain thing must be rewarded.

"If it is about punishment, the same must apply, regardless of who that person is."

Madonsela spoke alongside Public Service Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti, Planning Minister Trevor Manuel, and Britain’s Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude.

Madonsela referred to a case in Mpumalanga where a municipal manager had kept his job after being found guilty of theft.

"My request to the minister [Sisulu] and everyone in the public sector is: walk the talk.

"We made a finding against a Mpumalanga municipal manager, [his case] was not mismanagement of public funds, but blatant theft, but he still has his job," she said.

In response, Sisulu said government was establishing an anti-corruption bureau as part of its public service reforms.

She promised urgent action and feedback on the Mpumalanga case.

"By tomorrow [Thursday] we will have been in contact with the municipal manager, who you found to have blatantly removed money from the public purse without necessary authority. We will deal with that [case] and indicate it," she said.

"One of the reasons for establishing the bureau is to ensure that we do not hold - in the public administration system - people who have criminal cases hanging over them.

"We will act expeditiously; if there is prima facie evidence, the person will no longer be in the public service while the legal process goes on, which can take years."

Earlier, acting President Kgalema Motlanthe told delegates at the annual government leadership summit that wasteful spending of government resources should end.

"We have to repeat the message that resource wastage cannot be tolerated."

It was important that the civil service allocated resources according to policy priorities, and ensured efficient spending and value for money, he said.

"As we sit here today, our public administration is saddled with notable challenges that must be addressed with due haste."

He cited the diagnostic overview of the National Planning Commission, which highlighted numerous problems with public sector performance.

"It [the overview] says addressing the uneven performance of the public service will therefore not be achieved through multiple initiatives, but rather through a focused and co-ordinated approach," Motlanthe said.

"Our key challenge then, in addition to inculcating a sense of mission and a deeper understanding of government in our civil service, is to come to terms with the nuts and bolts of the civil service machinery."

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