Public Service and Administration (DPSA) Minister, Senzo Mchunu, has authorised the release of the draft National Implementation Framework towards the professionalisation of the public service for public comments.
The framework document recommends, among other provisions, that the public service be merit-based and insulated from party politics. It also proposes five critical professionalisation pillars.
Cabinet approved the publication of the draft national implementation framework towards the professionalisation of the public service on 18 November 2020, and indicated that this was in line with the commitment made by the sixth administration to create a capable, ethical and developmental public service.
Professionalising the public service is defined as having in office or service qualified people, who know what are they are doing and who are fully equipped to perform their jobs with diligence.
This entails continuous development, which makes public servants more competitive by sharpening their knowledge.
The National School of Government (NSG) is leading this professionalisation project on behalf of the Minister for Public Service and Administration portfolio, including DPSA and Centre for Public Service Innovation (CPSI).
The framework document draws a distinction between being professional and professionalism. Being professional is defined as the practices, conduct, values and behaviour, regardless of training, qualifications and levels of responsibility.
Professionalisation, on the other hand, is about changing individual attitudes, behaviour and performance towards serving the public.
It is a values aspect which is about observing and serving people with empathy in accordance with the Constitution, Batho Pele and the Public Service Charter.
In a statement issued on Thursday, the National School of Government highlighted that the document proposes a non-partisan public service, adding that the public service should be “depoliticised and government departments must be insulated from party politics.”
The NSG said bureaucracy must continue to loyally and diligently implement the political mandate set by voters and the party, but refrain from being political actors themselves in the practice of state craft.
“To achieve this distinction would require a few decisive reforms, including extending the tenure of heads of department (HoD), formalising the designation of the Director-General in The Presidency, as the Head of the Public Administration and implementing occupation specific competency assessments to assess fit for purpose for shortlisted candidates,” the NSG said.
The document also entails making provision to rotate HoDs, while at the same time, implementing the revolving door policy and making secondment policy more flexible.
The framework proposes that the Public Service Commission plays a role in appointment of Deputy Directors-General and Directors-General by identifying and recommending experts to participate in interviews, thereby making selection processes more rigorous.
Five critical professionalisation pillars proposed include pre-entry recruitment and selection within the public service, induction and onboarding, planning and performance management, continuous learning and professional development, and career progression and management of career incidence.
As the policy department, DPSA will give effect to the final framework through a range of policy instruments in accordance with the powers conferred to the Minister by the Public Service Act and the Public Administration and Management Act.
The Public Service Commission is also making substantive input into the framework.
Professional bodies, interested parties, institutions of higher learning, think tanks, organised labour and public servants are invited to participate in this consultation process that seeks to deepen the transformation of the public service into an ethical, effective and development machinery.
The document was published in the Government Gazette on 24 of December 2020. It will be available on the NSG website, www.thensg.gov.za (link is external).
Stakeholders and members of the public are invited to send comments to the email address email@example.com (link sends e-mail)
The closing date for comments is 28 February 2021.