Getting the Public Services ‘right’

We are all in agreement that our current public service is in shambles and only needs us who use it and work there to fix it and get things right the way they should be run just as the Batho Pele Principles direct us. Additionally, our attitude towards the public health services is one of the major challenges that we have to sort out the soonest.

While I agree there’s a lot that needs to be done – there is however one important thing that needs to be sorted out and gotten right first and should be mandatory: all public servants MUST use public services. These, among others, include public health centres (clinic and hospitals) and public schools. Of course there will be some resistance to this, but I am of the opinion that once this is made government policy and subject to one being employed in the public services – irrespective of who agrees or does not agree with it – it will be complied with.

And yes, there will be those who want to challenge this in Court – and many of them are used to it as it’s also their constitutional right to do so – and they are welcome. We really cannot have teachers teaching in public schools yet sending their kids to private schools. It is for this particular reason, among others, that many such people are accused of not taking their jobs seriously: public hospital Doctors not showing any sign of compassion for their patients in public health services and teachers going on strike (for whatever) because they know very well that their kids receive the best education from the private sector while many of the kids they teach can go for months without any teaching taking place. There are just a few examples.

Health Minister, Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi – one of the best ministers the country, in my view, has ever had and the most effective  – is setting a very good example by using the public health services and encouraging his kids and family to do the same, he told Mail & Guardian in September 2013. He has also encouraged his colleagues in Cabinet to do the same thing too. This is of course despite claims from opposition parties – as they’ve come to be known, and not ‘alternatives’- that he was given preferential treatment over other patients while others  commended his action. Asked Motsoaledi: “What kind of a leader would I be if I stood up on platforms … saying the public health system isn’t so bad and then I, and my entire family, get treated at the best private hospitals?”

Of course the minister did admit the challenges experienced in his department. He said one of those is that the department has not been giving the state specialists enough management support and equipments to do their jobs. “However, I can assure you that all my National Health Insurance plans are geared towards overturning this. I want to give the professors their power back. That is my promise,” he said.

Andile Mngxitama argued in 2011 in Sowetan that our public servants “give themselves shocking amounts of money and then take themselves and their families out of the public service because they can afford the private sector services.”  For public servants to use public services is a sign that they believe in the services they provide: that what is good for us is also good for them. But if they do not use them, what impression are they creating?

But as Economic Freedom Fighters said following Motsoaledi’s use of public hospital, it is important that our leaders, too, show the same faith in the public system – just as Motsoaledi did – which they are responsible for overseeing, and lead by example. “This is the kind of leadership that should be displayed by other Ministers on a daily basis”. This will go a long way in as far as the newly published Public Services Charter for 2013 objectives and goals are concerned.

But until then…

NB: Here’s a copy of PUBLIC SERVICE CHARTER FOR 2013.

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