Keynote address by the Minister for Public Service and Administration, Hon. Radhakrishna l. Padayachie (roy), MP on the occasion of the Academic Opening Session of Masters and Doctoral students
23 Jan 2012Programme Director
Vice Chancellor and Executive Management of the University
Director for the School of Social and Government Studies
Staff and students of the University
Ladies and gentlemen
I take this opportunity to express my heartfelt gratitude to the University and in particular the School of Social and Government Studies for inviting me to address this auspicious gathering, under what I consider to be one of the most important themes especially for our country and the rest of the African continent - Governance within the context of a developmental state.
The theme is most important against the backdrop of both the globalisation process which has for some time constrained our ability as a country to fast-track our transformation and to respond to the myriad needs of the majority of our people, in particular those relating to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on the one hand, and the recent global economic and financial crisis, on the other; a crisis which has not only exposed limitations of neo-liberal economic thought, but has threatened global economic stability with our major trading partners such as the European Union and United States.
All these factors have a direct bearing on our ability to successfully construct a developmental state; one that is not only democratic, but that is also able to root out poverty, deliver quality services, fight corruption, improve access to quality education, ensure economic growth, and create more jobs in the economy.
The developmental state that we posit in South Africa is located within the overall context of our transformation agenda.
When the African National Congress (ANC) ascended to power in 1994, the main challenge was how to formulate workable solutions in response to the unfriendly global milieu and demanding domestic terrain that required decisive action to address the justifiably unmitigated expectations of the people of South Africa.
The change from apartheid to democratic government therefore was a fundamental process that required thoroughgoing transformation in the economic, political and social spheres. Government had to redress past inequalities and remove discriminatory policies created by the apartheid regime in order to realise a just, inclusive and prosperous society.
Part of this effort included democratic consolidation, the establishment of representative and efficient political institutions, the economic reform of a country that had hitherto been weakened by sanctions and international isolation, and reconciliation between different racial groups. The process also entailed establishing transformative structures at different levels; and formulating new policies and regulations that would enhance equity, democracy and participation, and ensure redress in different areas.
The impact of the discriminatory and exclusionary development was deeper than initially anticipated; with vast areas of the historically disadvantaged without basic services, such as water and electricity. The capacity of the state was at its lowest ebb compared to the task it was envisaged to undertake in the post-apartheid era. Worst of all, the Government purse was literally empty.
The starting point for the transformation project therefore was the stabilisation of the state in a number of areas before embarking on ambitious transformation projects. These included the transformation of the public service into a more coherent, representative, transparent, efficient, effective and accountable entity, that is able to execute government policies, and is responsive to the needs of all citizens (in areas such as education, health, housing and land claims); reducing the government deficit, reprioritising government expenditure from consumption to productive applications, and integrate the South African economy into a competitive global economy.
This transformation was given practical expression in the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP). Underlying the RDP was the justifiable hope that foreign direct investment (FDI) would flow into the country and that the international community would complement South Africa's efforts to create conditions for a better life for all. Within a few years of liberation, however, it became clear that this would not be the case. The lifting of sanctions and our peaceful transition to democracy did little to attract foreign, and stimulate, domestic investments. Domestic private sector investment was negative for several years, as capital effectively went on strike, moving mobile resources offshore as rapidly as it possibly could.
To transform the public service into a viable agency capable of achieving the apex priorities of the Government of National Unity, the White Paper on the Transformation of the Public Service (WPTPS) was introduced in 1995 and it sought to establish a framework to guide the transformation of the South African public service including the introduction and implementation of new policies and legislation.
The Constitution, adopted in 1996, further entrenched the goals of the White Paper. The Constitutional values and principles for Public Administration, along with the Bill of Rights, committed Government to a broad participative, redistributive and developmental role.
Programme Director, while much has been achieved since the advent of democracy, a myriad of challenges still remain.
Both the Fifteen Year Review Synthetic Report (2008) and the Diagnostic Overview of the National Planning Commission (2011) to which the National Development Plan (2011) seeks to respond, are frank about the successes and shortcomings of our attempts since 1994.
For instance, the efforts to deliver quality services to the people, such as clean water and sanitation, houses, basic infrastructure, and ensuring access to quality education, are on-going. But the needs are too many for us to overcome in a period of just 17 years of freedom.
Another area, Programme Director, where there has been considerable progress is the area of the promotion of representativeness. The public service now mirrors the demographics of the country and it is well-positioned to execute the task of a developmental state. Of course, much more focus needs to be given to the national targets for representation of women and persons with disabilities across all salary levels but particularly in senior management service.
With regard to poverty reduction, statistics show that income poverty has actually declined.
What is apparent, at least from the Government’s point of view, is that our successes occurred more often in areas where Government had significant control, than in areas where we only had indirect influence (although of cause this distinction is not always consistent).
The National Development Plan therefore places us on a forward-looking trajectory and requires all of us, not just Government, to commit to concrete programmes that will improve the lives of the South African people.
To this extent, the National Development Plan becomes a framework within which the current efforts to construct a South African developmental state are being anchored.
Programme Director the concept of a developmental state is neither new nor unique to South Africa. In fact, many examples of developmental states have been cited in various pieces of literature, with the so-called Asian Tigers of Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea, being the most notable. Hong Kong and Singapore became world-leading international financial centres, whereas South Korea became a world leader in manufacturing information technology in the period between the 1960s and 1990s. The Tigers experienced decades of supercharged growth based largely on industrial policies supporting exports to developed countries of the northern hemisphere.
Victor Krasilshchikov argues that the Asian Tigers export-oriented growth was conditioned by a set of the external factors. Firstly, there was a rise of the new international division of labour, that is, the removal of mass assembly line production to the East while the markets for their outputs remained linked to the West. Secondly, there was the intention on the part of the United States to restrain both the Maoist expansion and the Soviet influence in the region by means of successful capitalist modernisation of the American satellites in Asia. The United States did everything in its power to sustain the local ruling elites.
While one cannot rule out the importance of internal (domestic) factors in these countries, the prevailing balance of forces at the time as a result of the Cold War did have a major role to play in the success of these countries.
Elsewhere the context was different. In Africa, for instance, the search for developmental states is associated with the quest for democratisation and good governance, owing in large part to the continent’s historical context.
In the case of the Asian Tigers, the basic tenets of democracy were lacking, corruption was rife, labour rights were often violated, and there was little evidence of public participation in decision-making processes – all these generally regarded as important elements of good governance.
There has generally been a new thinking around the concept of a developmental state. While in East Asia, it was conceived more in terms of growing the economy and ensuring the survival of the ruling elite (i.e. a political consideration), in Africa there is equal focus on issues of governance.
The Constitutive Act of the African Union, with its broad framework; NEPAD and the APRM are an important step in the direction of entrenching good governance and creating democratic developmental states.
I am convinced that what distinguishes a developmental state from other states is the extent to which it strives to achieve good governance in its totality.
My view, which I am sure is shared by many, is that achieving a developmental state will not only be possible through a statement of intent; nor will it be achieved by a mere declaration that our country is a democratic developmental state. Achieving a developmental state must be demonstrated through commitment to economic growth, eradication of poverty and reduction of inequality, creating jobs, and eradicating crime and corruption.
Having shared a broad conceptual framework of a developmental state, which also finds express resonance with the National Development Plan, I am convinced that we have a starting point to interrogate the challenges that confront us as a country in constructing and sustaining a developmental state.
Further research is needed to inform policy choices, policy formulation and decision-making. On this score, greater effort should be placed on enhancing partnerships towards the development and harnessing of the research capacity in institutions such as this University, so as to conduct and produce research in support of our efforts to deliver a state that will not only be democratic but that will also be truly developmental in character.
Currently, Government is seized with finding the best solutions to service delivery challenges. As Government we should depend on universities to develop new strategies and plans to keep up with the needs of the people.
The National Development Plan emphasises this point and states that “higher education is the major driver of the information/knowledge system, linking it with economic development”. It goes on to say universities are pivotal to developing a nation. They produce new knowledge, critique information and find new local and global applications of the existing knowledge. They also set norms and standards, ethics and philosophy underpinning a nation’s knowledge capital.
Apart from research, universities also have an important role of educating and training people with high-level skills for employment needs of both the public and the private sector. Universities cannot simply be institutions that produce large numbers of students whose skills are incongruent with the prerequisites of the jobs available in the market.
For us to turn around the public service, we need a new calibre of public servants, which universities must help produce. These public servants should have the following attributes, amongst others:
In conclusion, I would like to invite you to join hands with Government and work together to address the challenges faced by our country. Driven by our commitment to serve and create a better life that we have promised our citizens not by a profit motive.
- Break New Ground – are innovative and do not shy away from coming up with new ideas for the public good;
- Inspire Success – are self-motivated and ready to motivate others;
- Raise the Standard – strive to provide excellent quality service and instil a culture of continuous improvement;
- Put People First – are committed, caring, results-oriented and strive at all times to meet and exceed people’s expectations;
- Display integrity – are reliable and conduct themselves ethically.
I thank you.
Mr Dumisani Nkwamba
Tel: 012 336 1704
Cell: 082 885 9448
Issued by: Department of Public Service and Administration
23 Jan 2012
[ Top ]