Tuesday, June 6, 2017





Stes de Necker

No South African politician or minister walks around with a government cheque book in his/her pocket.

So how is it possible that there can be so much corruption in state funding when all financial transactions of the government must go through the Treasury and the South African Department of Finance?

In terms of the Public Finance Management Act (Act 1 of 1999) Heads of Department, as Accounting Officers of their Departments, are responsible and accountable for moneys spent and received in their different departments.

So how do government funds flow so easily around outside state departments?

The answer is rather simple:

Because all Heads of State Departments are pawns in the hands of the politicians who has free reigns over the appointments and discharge of Administrative Heads.

Wherever and whenever a Head of Department doesn’t do what the Political Head of that Department tells him to do, he runs the very real risk of being dismissed from his post and loose his livelihood as a public servant.

My dear friends, I was Head of the Free State Department of Agriculture, so I know what I’m talking about.

On numerous occasions I was expected to approve some or other financial expenditure for the Department as Accounting Officer which was in contravention of the Law and in every such case I refused to give approval or support to such expenditure.

This type of conduct was simply unacceptable to the Free State ANC Government and inevitably lead to my retirement from the public service in 1996.

During my term of office I have on many different occasions warn against the paralysing effects of Political Office bearers becoming administrators and public service administrators playing politics.
Politicians are simply not trained to be administrators and administrators are not trained to be politicians. The rules separating these two functions are very clear and simple.

Politicians are expected to make policy, and administrators are expected to execute and implement that policy.

Any professional public servant worth his salt knows that he/she is serving the government of the day regardless his/her political convictions. Public servants execute their political convictions at the ballot box; not in their offices!

The biggest crime in South Africa today is that public service administrators are not being held accountable as they should be because of their direct personal and nepotistic relationships with the ANC politicians.

Not only do these practices undermine the competence of public institutions, but it conceals transparency and corruption in the public service.

The current Gupta debacle is certainly the most fitting example of the consequences of this abhorrent practice in South African governance.

How was it possible that a single Indian family could almost achieve the complete capture of the South African Government?

Simply because the people heading the administrative institutions involved in this atrocity, who were supposed to have overseen these atrocities, are all in the hands of the political puppeteers.

 The scourge of political intervention and interference in the lawful administration of this country has for decades been used serve private or party political interests. Definitely not the people of South Africa!

There can be no economic growth or political reform in South Africa without radical political and administrative reform.

We cannot expect any changes by merely changing the management of state institutions with managers who are selected on the basis of political criteria. This will not change the way in which these institutions are operating. The Government is merely changing the people who are running these institutions.  

A radical change is to alter the way an institution operates; the practices that guide the activities in such institutions. The people in key positions in the public administration should be appointed regardless of the myopic political party in power.

The only way to achieve this objective is to reduce, or where it is possible, completely eliminating the party influence in the activities of the public administration, increasing the continuity in the institutions, strengthening institutional responsibility and accountability and introducing a business methodology in the activities of public services.

In practice this means, if South Africa really wants to have an effective public service, it should immediately distinguish the appointments in the public administration from the party affiliation of the applicants.

The CEO’s and the managerial administrative staff in ministries and municipal services must come from the Public Administration System rather than appointment relatives and friends from the inner circle of political heads.  

The Department of Public Service and Administration, after consultation with the relative political head, should become the sole authority to appoint public service workers.  

This will ensure greater transparency in government activities and the public administration will be able to monitor the consistency in the implementation of the commitments made by the state.

Capable and well prepared staff for the public administration can be trained and skilled by the Public Service Training Institute.

Appointments in key positions should be made on the principle of business solutions that are based on international best practices and strict accountability for their activities.

Public administration should work on the bases of the model of a "business plan”; statement of activities performed and analysis of results.

A radical administrative reform is not only imperative for the socio economic development of South Africa, but for the effective and proper management of law and order as well.

The implementation of this kind of reform will however require managers who will serve the institutions of the executive, legislative and judicial power and enjoy public confidence. It will be the result of explicit commitments to specific individuals and institutions that will be close to the citizens.

Transparency must be the first principle on the basis of which public institutions must be managed and proper rules against arbitrary acts are the second thing that we must be establish in the public administration.

Staff appointments is one of the most mismanaged activities of the current public administration.

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