Cyril Ramaphosa promises to end patronage and 'build a capable state'

Cyril Ramaphosa promises to end patronage and 'build a capable state'

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced plans on Monday to end cadre deployment in an effort to build a capable and effective state that delivers services with speed.

Writing in his weekly newsletter, Ramaphosa said one of the pressing challenges was the need to build a capable state, a task that does not capture the imagination of most people but is essential to everything his government wants to achieve.

Ramaphosa, who campaigned in the Northern Cape ahead of the ANC's anniversary two weeks ago, wrote that walking through the streets of Kimberley and other towns in the province drove home the point that “if we are to better the lives of South Africans, especially the poor, we need to significantly improve the capacity of the government that is meant to improve their lives”.

He said it was disheartening to see that, despite progress in many areas, there were several glaring instances of service delivery failures.

“Many of the places we visited struggle to provide social infrastructure and services simply because they have such a small revenue base. But, in some cases, elected officials and public servants have neglected their responsibilities.

“A common feature in most of these towns, which is evident throughout all spheres of government, is that the state often lacks the necessary capacity to adequately meet people’s needs,” he wrote.

He said public representatives and civil servants derive their legitimacy from their ability to act professionally as they serve the public and manage state resources to the benefit of the public.

“We also need to ensure that we embody the Batho Pele principles. Putting people first. It is through such an approach that we can have a state that places people and their needs at the centre.

“Yet, the achievement of such a state is undermined by weak implementation. Poor co-ordination and alignment between departments and lack of effective oversight has meant that policies and programmes have not had the necessary impact on people’s lives.”

This, Ramaphosa said, is why his administration has prioritised the task of building a capable state. Much of the work happens behind the scenes, ensuring that policies are aligned, processes are streamlined, technology is effectively deployed, budgets are adhered to and programmes are properly monitored and evaluated.

“A capable state starts with the people who work in it. Officials and managers must possess the right financial and technical skills and other expertise. We are committed to end the practice of poorly qualified individuals being parachuted into positions of authority through political patronage.

"There should be consequences for all those in the public service who do not do their work,” he said.

He said a capable state also means state-owned enterprises (SOEs) need to fulfill their mandates effectively and add value to the economy. State companies that cannot deliver services, such as Eskom during load-shedding, or that require continual bailouts, such as SAA, diminish the capacity of the state.

“That is why a major focus of our work this year is to restore our SOEs to health. We will do this by appointing experienced and qualified boards and managers. We will be clarifying their mandates, and give them scope to execute those mandates,” he said.