Ramaphosa: Public servants are crucial to how govt is perceived by citizens

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday used his weekly newsletter to highlight the role of public servants in the country, saying thta they carried a great responsibility on their shoulders.

President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the nation on 23 July 2020. Picture: GCIS

JOHANNESBURG - President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday said that government was working to fix fundamental problems in the public service.

“Public servants are the first interface between government and citizens. Their encounters, whether positive or negative, are crucial in how the state is perceived by the wider population,” Ramaphosa said in his weekly newsletter.

“Our key priority is to build a capable state. If we are to build a more capable state we have to seriously and urgently address the shortcomings in the organisation and the capacity of the public service.”

However, the president said that the view that the public service was bloated was a misconception.

“The real issue is whether – given its size, cost, and needs of our country – the public service is performing as it should. The experience of our people is that in several areas, the state is falling short of expectations,” he said.

Ramaphosa used his weekly newsletter to highlight the role of public servants in the country, saying that they carried a great responsibility on their shoulders.

He said that it was important to remember that the public service was not only made up of officials and administrators, but also of doctors, nurses, teachers and police officers.

The president said that the experience of South Africans was that the state was falling short of expectations when it came to performance.

“There are some fundamental problems that we are working to fix. One of the areas to which we’re giving attention is known as the ‘political-administrative’ interface, where lines of accountability at the most senior levels of the state have become blurred. Political office bearers such as ministers, MECs, and mayors often veer towards getting involved in administrative matters that should be the responsibility of professional public servants.

“While the public service is required to implement the electoral mandate of the governing party and to account to the executive, they need to be able to do this work without undue political interference.”

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