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President Jacob Zuma today, 12 October 2010, met with a task team representing Directors-General, (DGs) of government departments in Cape Town.
The purpose of the meeting was to take forward discussions on how to change the way the public service works in order to improve service delivery, as part of the renewal of government.
The President first met the DGs and their deputies in April this year.
The task team presented a comprehensive report on the work that they are doing to solve the problems identified by the President in April. He is satisfied with the work done thus far.
"The DGs understand what we are trying to do, and that is important because they run the government departments that must get the work done. The Deputy President, Ministers, Premiers and I depend on them to implement what we want to be done to improve the quality of life of our people. We do not have much time. Soon, the public should see and feel the difference in the way government works. I am satisfied that the DGs understand the urgency in this regard,'' said the President.
He reminded them that the features of the fourth democratic administration are improved planning, performance monitoring and evaluation, as well as building a caring and accessible government.
"The experience of government for most people is a frustrating one and that should not be the case. People wait for long hours for services in hospitals, pension pay points, municipalities and other service points. Since we have highly skilled managers, budgets and other resources, what is the problem? Why is the public service not working in an efficient, effective and caring manner as it should,'' the President asked the DGs at the meeting.
He also cautioned against the excessive use of consultants in government.
"We appoint people on merit on the basis that they say they know the work they have applied for. As soon as they join the department, they employ consultants and government has to pay huge sums of money. This cannot be allowed to continue," he said.
He emphasized that the local government sphere should not be neglected in the government renewal exercise as there is a lot of work that must be done to improve the functioning of municipalities.
President Zuma urged the DGs to continue the good work of fighting corruption within government.
A multi-agency working group which includes SARS, the Financial Intelligence Centre, the Auditor-General, the Special Investigating Unit and SA Police Service are working on preventative as well as enforcement measures to deal with procurement-related corruption within government. This is one of many interventions that government has put in place already.
Government will continue to work with labour to improve the working conditions generally and the shortage of staff in some sectors of the public service, for example health, education and others.
The next meeting will take place in January after the Cabinet Lekgotla.