Getting the new government working - statement by Mr Bantu Holomisa, MP (UDM President) (12 May 2009)

The UDM has noted the appointment of the new cabinet, but would like to warn that this can't be the sole panacea for the service delivery crisis. The next step President Zuma must urgently take is to look at the support systems for his cabinet, i.e. technocrats and senior civil servants.

There has been too much emphasis in the past 15 years on political heads driving departments at the expense of the accounting officers (DGs). This has led to the trend of political directives being issued by Ministers, overriding the better judgement of officials; for instance giving tenders to companies/individuals who are not competent or qualified simply because the Minister knows them personally.

Mr Zuma would be continuing with Mbeki's bad legacy of governance if he allowed political heads to continue to usurp unceremoniously the functions of senior civil servants.

Service delivery has been hampered by a lack of qualified people in these positions and by long-term vacancies. President Zuma must resist attempts by Ministers to appoint their own DGs or senior staff; it shouldn't be a buddy-buddy setup, because that's where the corruption starts. Parliament's Public Service Committee and the Public Service Commission must get actively involved in scrutinising the appointment of DGs and senior staff.

There are so many people in SA with skills today who are not necessarily ANC card-carrying members, the new Government must open the doors of the civil service for the talented and dedicated. In this way we can start to establish a career civil service instead of the current system of contracts, because people on contract connive with outside companies, knowing that once they leave the civil service they will be employed by these companies.

Government must fill the vacancies and make permanent appointments, far too many senior staff are employed in an acting capacity.