Manuel warns on lazy public servants

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By Richard Davies

Parliament, Cape Town - State employees and public servants who fail to do their jobs properly must face harsher consequences, Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel said on Tuesday.

“We must raise the consequences for those who do not perform the functions required of them,” he told MPs in the National Assembly, during debate on last week's state-of-the-nation address.

“If teachers get paid, even when they haven't taught our children, it's wrong, and there should be consequences.

“When health-workers make lots of money in the private sector while they are in the employ of the state, where they then report for duty only to rest, there should be consequences.”

The same applied to police officials who avoided being involved in crime prevention.

“And when public servants do business with their employer, there should be very serious consequences,” Manuel said, to loud applause.

Such behavioural change had to come through personal action and the appropriate legislation.

Manuel called for an overhaul of the public service.

“What we must do is commit together to retrain and re-orientate the public service. We need a very different skills set. One that is focused on evidence-based decisions.”

He said Public Service and Administration Minister Lindiwe Sisulu “will detail plans in this regard quite soon”.

On fighting corruption, Manuel said the National Development Plan (NDP) recognised there were problems in the government's supply chain management.

“We must recognise that supply chain management is the Achilles' heel of our democracy.”

Many of the problems experienced were “traceable to the fissures in our supply chain management system”, he said.

On Parliament's role in fighting corruption, he said strengthening accountability “starts here, in this House”.

Referring to the NDP, he quoted what he called its “harsh words” on parliamentary accountability.

“Accountability is essential to democracy. The accountability chain has to be strengthened from top to bottom.

“To begin with, parliamentary accountability is weak, with Parliament failing to fulfil its most basic oversight role,” Manuel said. - Sapa

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