Manuel, Chabane set the ball rolling on new ministries

Friday, September 4, 2009

Pretoria - Two documents on how the new ministries of National Planning and Monitoring and Evaluation will work were released on Friday, shedding light on how the ministries intend to carry out their mandate.

President Jacob Zuma set up the ministries, led by former finance Minister Trevor Manuel and Collins Chabane, to guide and monitor the work of government for the next five years. This would also form part of efforts to step up government delivery.

The Green Papers, which will guide the work of the two ministers, is a culmination of a consultation process with various stakeholders in and outside government, and will be tabled in parliament on Tuesday where members will debate its contents.

Several questions were raised after the two ministries were set up with opposition parties arguing that there was no clear mandate for the ministries.

"Today we are pleased to finally release the Green Paper on Performance, Monitoring and Evaluation to the public," Minister Chabane said, as he explained how his monitoring unit within the presidency will work.

"Today we outline in our paper, our approach and the process we will follow in delivering our mandate," he said.

Part of what is raised in the paper is a desire to improve the effectiveness of government while also identifying gaps within the system of governance.

While each sphere of government will retain all their planning capacity, decision making relating to the work of the ministries will be rooted in the Cabinet.

Minister Chabane said the establishment of the ministries was a clear demonstration of commitment by government to ensure that it meets an outcomes based performance that would make a meaningful impact in the lives of the people.

"We need to understand and accept why we have too often not met our objectives in delivering quality services. The reasons vary from amongst others lack of political will, inadequate leadership...and misaligned decision rights," he said.

Part of what the new ministries want to achieve is to improve outcome and output measures with a particular focus on priority areas. These include education, health, safety, economic growth and rural development. While strides have been made to change the lives of people since 1994, the paper does point to a deteriorating education and health system in South Africa and blames this on the lack of coordination in government.

Minister Manuel said the new approach was not to "police" individual departments within government, but that it was important that things were done differently.

"Planning works best if it is seen to be coordinated," he said.

Minister Manuel's green paper also highlights a need for an overhaul in several areas, including food security, national health, industrial development trends and the capability and performance of the public service.

The public will be given an opportunity to comment on both green papers before they can be adopted.