Public Service Commissions from around Africa meet in Cape Town

Monday, February 16, 2009

Cape Town - Stakeholders from across Africa have gathered in Cape Town for the first General Assembly of the Association of African Public Service Commissions to discuss how to improve public service on the continent.

Opening the event, Deputy President Baleka Mbete said member commissions would collaborate and share experiences and best practices in order to promote good governance and improve service delivery in public services within the continent.

She said the Association of African Public Service Commissions, known as AAPSComs, has the challenge of linking its work to continental initiatives currently unfolding within the African Union, including continental integration.

"By providing a mechanism for our Public Services Commissions to share experiences and learn from each other, the AAPSComs will help soften borders between our countries and diverse cultures, and harmonise our institutions and practices, from Cape to Cairo, for the promotion of good governance," she said.

The knowledge and insight that the Public Service Commissions in Africa collectively possess, make them pivotal in advancing African public service transformation, the Deputy President added.

Ms Mbete explained that the AAPSComs was a critical addition to the structures which have been established in Africa aimed at turning around the continent for a better life for the people.

"Evaluative knowledge is a source of immense power and influence and has, indeed, been used by a number of agencies in the North to influence critical investment and other decisions affecting our countries.

"Africa has been subjected to monitoring and evaluation by countless external agencies. But this has been top down and disempowering, resulting in a slew of results that puts Africa and Africans on most indices in lower quintiles," said the Deputy President.

However, she said countries should not be afraid to hold the mirror up to themselves, and locally drive monitoring and evaluation to serve as a critical element of the management.

In South Africa, the Public Service Commission, established as a constitutional body, investigates, monitors and evaluates the organisation and administration, and the personnel practices, of the public service.

It also comes up with measures to ensure effective and efficient performance within the public service and gives direction aimed at ensuring that personnel procedures relating to recruitment, transfers promotions and dismissals comply with the constitutionally prescribed values and principles.

There are 14 Commissioners who head the Public Service Commission. "[They] have made an important contribution to the achievements of our young democracy in their tireless work to realize this mandate given to them by our Constitution.

"The reports they produce and studies they conduct do not only help us set standards and targets for the performance of our public services; they are also the conscience we need to constantly improve our delivery of services to our people," said the Deputy President.

South African Minister of Public Service and Administration, Richard Baloyi, Minister of State for Public Service in Kenya, Dalmas Otiento Anyango, Interim President of the Association of African Public Services Commissions, Professor Stan Sangweni as well as the Interim Vice Presidents from East, West and Southern Africa and academic institutions are attending the assembly.