THE PUBLIC SERVICE AMENDMENT BILL APPROVED

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By Delani Majola 

  • The New South Institute (NSI) celebrates the passage of the Public Service Amendment Bill by the National Assembly (NA) on 27 February 2024, heralding a significant stride in South Africa’s governance landscape.
  • NSI, an advocate for civil service professionalisation, hails the bill as a milestone in reducing political influence in government appointments and operational decisions, crucial for enhancing accountability and efficiency in the public sector.
  • NSI Director, Ivor Chipkin, underscores the bill’s importance, noting its pivotal role in rectifying governance challenges, redistributing powers within government structures, and fostering a more accountable and professional public service.

The New South Institute (NSI) welcomes the passing of the Public Service Amendment Bill, an enormous achievement in the governance framework in South Africa. 

On 27 February 27, 2024, the National Assembly (NA) at its hybrid plenary sitting approved the bill, marking a significant step forward in the professionalisation and modernisation of the public service.

As an advocate for the professionalisation of the civil service, the NSI has long championed the need for reforms to reduce political influence in government appointments and operational decisions. This is a milestone in South Africa’s democratic journey. We congratulate committed public servants and champions of democracy who, through their dedication and individual contributions, have supported this cause.

“This is huge and it marks the most significant change in the organisation of government since 1994,” remarked NSI Director, Ivor Chipkin, who leads the Public Service Reform programme at the Institute. 

“The passage of the Public Service Amendment Bill is a testament to the collective commitment to building a more accountable and efficient public service.”

The NSI was concerned when the bill was temporarily removed from the parliamentary agenda last year. However, its reintroduction and subsequent passage demonstrate the government’s commitment to addressing the challenges facing the public service.

The NSI had long called for amendments to Section 3 of the Public Service Act, particularly clauses granting ultimate power to Ministers, MECs, and the President over appointments and operational decisions. 

These provisions create conflicts and confusion within government structures, undermining effective governance. They also made State Capture possible. The Public Service Amendment Bill represents an important step in rectifying this issue, redistributing powers to senior officials, and enhancing professionalism within the public service.

Key provisions of the bill include the transference of administrative powers to heads of departments and mechanisms for resolving grievances. 

Moving forward the Bill, together with the Public Administration Management Amendment Bill, and the Statistics Amendment Bill, will proceed to the National Council of Provinces for concurrence.

The Public Service Amendment Bill is available here: https://www.parliament.gov.za/storage/app/media/Bills/2023/B13_2023_Public_Service_Amendment_Bill/B13_2023_Public_Service_Amendment_Bill.pdf

 

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