Batho Pele Service Excellence Awards

Speech by the Premier of the Northern Cape, Ms Sylvia Lucas, on the occasion of the Batho Pele Service Excellence Awards, 18 October 2013, Mittah Seperepere Convention Centre at 19h00

Programme Director
Provincial Director-General,
Heads of Departments,
Panel of Adjudicators for the Premier's Service Excellence Awards,
Ernest and Young our Partners
Representative of Absa
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

I am delighted to be here to present the illustrious 10 years of recognizing Public Service Excellence Awards in the Province.

These Awards were established in 2003, as a means of showcasing excellence in the Public Service.  In particular, the Awards recognise best practice in programmes, projects and initiatives that have enhanced the quality, efficiency and effectiveness of the administration and delivery of Public Services.

It is worth mentioning that the conceptualisation of the Service Excellence Awards was  that it would provide the leverage needed to move Public Servants away from the bureaucratic culture of an inward focus on red tape and a don’t care attitude. We were looking at shifting the focus externally to the citizens, whereby we would put them first in everything we do, and uphold their dignity through the implementation of Batho Pele Principles.

Indeed, we meet here tonight, to honour the teams that have displayed commitment and zeal in the execution of their duties. We are here to pay tribute to the humble Public Servants who continuously strive to improve the lives of our citizens day and night, far from the gaze of the spotlight.

We are talking about Public Servants who have spent long hours away from the comfort of their homes to bring much needed services to our people who stay in the far-flung areas of our province.

We are talking about Public Servants who draw their strength and courage from the fact that they know that the people who they serve depend on them for survival.

Programme Director, those to be honoured tonight surely have demonstrated some extraordinary leadership attributes, compassion and humility. They have taken upon themselves the responsibility to ensure that as they perform their daily duties they at the same time inspire others.

They have certainly inspired ordinary South Africans to seize the opportunities that our democracy offers. They have inspired our people to gain skills and training and do things for themselves to change their circumstances.

As the ANC led government, we are gathered here to demonstrate to our people our commitment to service excellence. We are here because we believe that our people deserve better as they are entitled to Public Services.

Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to remind you about the principles of Batho Pele that must guide us in the execution of our tasks and responsibilities:

  1. Consultation: Citizens must be consulted about the level and quality of the Public Services they receive and wherever possible, will be given a choice about the services that are offered.
  2. Service Standards: Citizens will be told what level and quality of Public Services they will receive so that they are aware of what to expect. These standards will be set at a level that is demanding yet realistic.
  3. Access: All citizens will have equal access to the services to which they are entitled.
  4. Courtesy: Citizens will be treated with courtesy and consideration.
  5. Information: Citizens will be given full and accurate information about the Public Services they are entitled to receive.
  6. Openness and Transparency: Citizens will be given information on how the three spheres of government, that is, national, provincial and local government and the various departments function, as well the cost of services provided.
  7. Redress: Dealing with complaints - If the promised standard of service is not delivered, citizens will be offered an apology, a full explanation and a speedy and effective remedy. When complaints are made, citizens will receive a sympathetic, positive response.
  8. Value for Money: Public Services will be provided economically and efficiently in order to give citizens the best possible value for money.
  9. Encouraging innovation and rewarding excellence: Departments will ensure that an environment conducive to the delivery of services is created to enhance the capacity of their personnel to deliver good services.
  10. Service delivery impact: Departments will measure and report regularly, using the sum total of all Batho Pele initiatives, the impact of Batho Pele-based service delivery on the lives of the citizens of the Northern Cape, in the first three years and thereafter every five years.
  11. Leadership and strategic direction: All the leaders in the service delivery chain will provide direction, create alignment, engage staff, create effective partnerships and demonstrate ethical and sound values.

We trust and are confident that you are all applying these principles when you carry out your work. However, I am also aware that in some instances we treat our people badly and with utter disrespect when they acquire about government services. We are also aware that our people must wait for very long periods before we attend to them. This pathetic situation, Programme Director, will not be tolerated to go on unabated. It must stop. We must change our attitudes and serve our people with a smile and humility.

Going forward, the Public Service has a key role to play as we seek to transform the way we govern; the way we formulate policies and the way we deliver Public Services. We need to do this in a way which will connect with the citizens.

The transformation agenda now needs to be implemented by each Public Servant with vigour and commitment.  This will not be easy, but it provides our best guarantee for the future.  It will mean change in the way we work.

It will mean managing our resources more efficiently, sharing those resources and our expertise, harnessing technology to increase productivity, and getting the best value for money in procuring goods and services.

Conclusion

It is my firm view that there is much that is positive about the Public Service and, in transforming how we do things, we must be careful to hold on to the traditional positives, including fairness, honesty and a real commitment to Public Service.

The Public Service Excellence Awards provide clear evidence that these attributes exist in abundance across all sectors.  I believe that we now need to build on our achievements and to work together to ensure that we make transformation happen for the benefit of our citizens and Public Servants alike.

Once more, allow me to express my sincere gratitude to our partners ABSA and Ernst and Young for their laudable efforts and support to make this event the success that it is tonight.

I also wish to extend my warmest congratulations to the award winners of the Batho Pele Service Excellence Awards and the Batho Pele heroes for their outstanding performance in customer care services. The wonderful examples they have set for the Northern Cape at large deserve a big applause.

As we acknowledge and celebrate service excellence tonight i am also duty bound to remind you not only as civil servants but as responsible citizens of this Province and this country to exercise your Constitutional right to cast your vote in the upcoming general elections. This right to vote is a right hard fought for. It is a right that was achieved with the blood of many courageous women and men and it will be a shame and an indictment on the sacrifice made to ensure that we have this right if we do not vote. I therefore wish to make it abundantly clear that you have a duty towards your country to go out and to vote for leaders of your choice. To vote for progress, to vote for excellence and to vote for a caring and responsive Government. You currently have a Government that excels in many areas of competence and professionalism and by exercising your informed vote you will only strengthen our efforts to serve our people with greater distinction.

I thank you

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