Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) welcomes President Cyril Ramaphosa’s commitment to ensure that the public service is staffed by skilled, honest and ethical professionals who will be at the forefront of ensuring that we have an ethical state that is free from corruption.

President Ramaphosa says that his government is working on an important policy document that aims to root out corruption among public service officials.

As business, we commend the President for his bold move and his tough stance on graft, says BLSA CEO Busi Mavuso. “It’s also commendable that he explicitly stated that the men and women who serve in the public service should be committed to upholding the values of the Constitution and faithfully serve no other cause than that of the public.

The public service as the largest employer is faced with immense challenges to deliver services to the public of South Africa. The challenges are immense. Central is the need to provide employees with the requisite competencies to drive the primary task, which is service delivery.

For South Africa to realise this challenging yet important task of transforming the public service, we firstly need to acknowledge that the public sector has a pervasive skills shortage. The training of public servants, including senior management, is a necessity to equip public servants with the necessary skills, knowledge and competencies to deliver quality services efficiently and effectively.

To address the skills shortage, the government need to train and upskill or recruit suitably qualified public service officials, but most importantly enhanced skills also need to be matched with ethical and professional conduct to ensure effective performance. Without a well-functioning public service, the government will not be able to effectively address the challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality.

“Corruption is one of the greatest barriers to prosperity, economic competitiveness and development. It also impedes political and social stability in this country. If we are to be honest with ourselves, there’s long been a problem with maintaining proper ethical standards in this country.”

The rest of the Cabinet needs to take a leaf out of this pronouncement and have the courage and the honesty to acknowledge that the public service is riddled with corruption. This country desperately needs visionary leaders to curb corruption and push for public accountability. A zero-tolerance approach to corruption is crucial for growth and economic development, says Mavuso.

“The promise by the President to capacitate public servants to play their role in driving development and consolidating democracy is a step in the right direction and will definitely bolster and strengthen the public service. As business we reiterate that we need a functioning state in partnership with business, labour and civil society to win the war against this malfeasance.”

“We will continue to commit our resources to the cause that advances clean business. We are excited to stand on the side of responsible business and governance practice. We’re feeling very energised to hear the President take on corruption head on. And we all need to treat this as our last chance to defeat this despicable scourge because if we don’t succeed, we’ll become another failed African state,” adds Mavuso.

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