The Public Service Commission (PSC) released its quarterly Pulse of the Public Service report on Tuesday, confirming what most South Africans already know: that corruption and waste are being shot through the public sector.
“Corruption has become endemic in three sectors of South African government and has permeated all sectors of government. It undermines democracy and public trust in government, and negatively impacts government services and thereby community and societal development,” the report said.
It reflects the findings of the Zondo Commission, detailed in eight volumes, on state capture and institutionalized corruption in the public sector.
“One of the main problems is the issuing of unlawful orders by law enforcement agencies (EAs) and some high-level managers with influential positions in government,” the PSC report adds.
“Among other things, when President Cyril Ramaphosa testified before the Zondo Commission in August 2021, he admitted that many competent and highly qualified civil servants were either left the civil service or marginalized when they refused to carry out certain illegal orders.”
Discussing the report with the media on Tuesday, PSC Commissioner Anele Gxoyiya outlined some of the key issues hampering smooth public sector performance.
These include managers who make unlawful decisions and then claim ignorance of the law or act on the advice of officials (as in the Life Esidimeni tragedy, in which 141 patients with mental health problems died in undignified conditions); toxic organizational cultures; appointing incompetent people to key positions; continuous restructuring; low employee morale; lack of support from some seniors; budget cuts; and lack of enthusiasm for work.
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Another problem highlighted in the report is the lack of consequences for those who perform poorly at work.
How to fix this?
Solutions recommended by the PSC include:
- conducting merit-based recruitment, promotions, transfers and secondments;
- Prohibiting political considerations or involvement in the hiring, transfer, or appointment of senior executives or limiting political interference in the appointment of department heads;
- Prioritizing leadership development in terms of time and other types of support, such as constructive feedback, training and capacity;
- Developing a “holistic” performance reward framework to make employees feel valued, recognized and supported; Spirit
- Institutionalizing constitutional values and principles as a basis for building a professional and supportive working environment in public service.
Asked if PSC would participate in the appointment of a new Eskom CEO to succeed outgoing CEO André de Ruyter, Gxoyiya said it would be happy to advise if asked.
Additional mechanisms should be put in place to address the root causes of the factors preventing optimal performance—including supporting incompetent and unsupportive supervisors, validating good employees to increase morale and productivity, delegating decision-making and program implementation, and the Setting realistic goals within budget and capacity constraints and avoiding tensions at the political-administrative interface.
When it comes to supplier non-payment, the Department of Health is by far the biggest culprit, with almost R74 million owed to 2,929 suppliers at the end of September 2022.
A total of 3,454 suppliers are owed nearly R92 million across all government departments.
“The late payments and non-payment of suppliers by departments is an ongoing public service issue that indicates non-compliance with regulations,” Gxoyiya said.
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Non-payment of bills is life-threatening for SMEs, many of which are being forced to close or be blacklisted as a result.
Of particular concern was the increase in unpaid bills from 959 to 3,454 between June and September 2022 – the main culprits being the Health and Tourism Departments.
The Departments of Health and Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development were also slapped on the knuckles for late submission of reports to the PSC. “The departments’ late filing of the exception reports shows disregard for their legal obligations, and the departments’ late or non-payment shows that they care little about the plight of small businesses and their struggles,” the PSC says.
At the provincial level, the Eastern Cape is the worst-performing supplier, with more than R2 billion outstanding to 9,909 suppliers at the end of September.
Next is Gauteng with R1.3 billion owed to 7,791 suppliers.
In total, around 27,000 suppliers are owed more than R4.3 billion.
A lack of IT infrastructure for tracking invoices, a lack of financial delegations and unrecorded invoices are given as reasons for late or non-payment by suppliers.
The total number of complaints received by the National Anti-Corruption Hotline in September 2022 was 260 for national departments, 148 for provinces and 331 for public bodies.
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This article originally appeared on Moneyweb and has been republished with permission. Read the original article here.