DA will fight the creation of a Single Public Service
Kobus Marais, Shadow Minister of Public Service and Administration
15 February 2012
After a series of false starts over the years, the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) announced today that it is planning to introduce a bill that will give effect to the Single Public Service proposal before the end of June this year.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) has grave concerns about the creation of a Single Public Service (SPS), namely:
- It is likely to compromise or impede a municipality's ability or right to exercise its powers or perform its functions. This is in contravention of Section 151 of the Constitution.
- It is likely to undermine the executive authority of provinces. This is in contravention of Section 125 of the Constitution.
In the Public Service and Administration Portfolio Committee meeting where the matter was discussed this morning, the state law advisor was unable to answer questions on the impact of the Single Public Service on the independence and autonomy of local and provincial governments.
Under a Single Public Service, local and provincial governments will lose the power to recruit their own staff. Officials will no longer be accountable to democratically elected executives, but to a centralised bureaucracy. This has no place in a constitutional democracy which recognises the rights of citizens to choose their government at local, provincial as well as national level.
One of the hallmarks of a successful government is the ability and the political will to appoint the right people in the right places. Governments that follow this formula tend to succeed. Governments that practise cadre deployment, on the other hand, generally fail.
Taking away a government’s right to appoint people who are fit for purpose is not only undemocratic, but will negatively impact on service delivery to our most vulnerable citizens.
When the Public Administration Management (PAM) Bill, which first proposed the creation of a Single Public Service, came before Parliament in 2008 we voiced these concerns. It seems, however, that none of these concerns have been addressed as the DPSA prepares for the bill’s new formulation.
In addition, when the PAM bill appeared before Parliament in 2008, it emerged that a cost benefit analysis of the SPS was not taken into account in the drafting of the bill. Today’s presentation again made no mention on cost of an SPS to the state.
The public service is the backbone of service delivery. We should be seeking ways to improve efficiency and accountability in the public service. Instead, this bill will erode accountability and infringe on provinces’ constitutionally enshrined powers.
We will monitor the progress of the proposed bill closely. We will challenge any proposed legislation that threatens the quality of services received by the South African people, and the constitutionally enshrined authority of provincial and local government.