Collapse of the civil service statement by UDM Deputy-National Secretary (21 January 1998)
It is with growing alarm that the UDM, and the country, is watching the implosion in the Public Service.

There are daily reports about corrupt police officers, jailbreaks, chaos in our schools, disillusionment in the health services, collapse in the welfare services and justice grinding to a halt. In the mean time, the Public Service itself is losing expertise at an alarming rate, mostly as a result of ill-considered affirmative measures.

The transformation of the Civil Service, all reasonable South Africans realise, is a necessary and important process. The Civil Service needs to represent all South Africans and serve all South Africans. However, it seems to be nowhere achieving this. Most importantly, it seems to have run out of morale, hope, determination and expertise to a level where self-aggrandisement, rather than service, has become a norm amongst many public servants.

We realise that transformation takes time. We realise that the state has serious financial constraints. But we also realise that a total collapse will lead to total chaos, from which rebuilding will be extremely difficult.

The UDM urges Government to devise an overarching strategy to achieve the following:

  • Reconsider, reprioritise and scrutinise the overall and specific budgets of all state departments in order to make finances available for those pressing needs without which delivery and service become impossible.

  • Devise a program for appointments and retrenchments aimed, apart from affirmative action and down-sizing the Service,
    -at gaining, not losing, expertise,
    -cutting the huge retrenchment bill, and

  • empowering all existent civil servants with the skills necessary by means of training programmes, which can also serve as a means of ridding the Service of those not willing, or capable, of performing.

  • Devise a program for boosting the morale of the Civil Service, of instilling a spirit of efficient service, of esprit-de-corps. This, however, will only be effective once the above-mentioned measures are being implemented.

South Africa desperately needs a well-oiled and effective Civil Service. Government, we believe, feels the same. It is now the time to be more pragmatic and creative, and less ideological, in order to save the floundering Public Service, and those loyal and capable individuals still willing to serve the public.

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