Mbeki warns against private sector replacing government services

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Former President Thabo Mbeki has warned about the impact of the private sector delivering services that the government has failed to provide.

Mbeki was speaking at the South African Association of Public Administration and Management‘s annual conference in Ekurhuleni on the East Rand.

The conference focuses on the challenges and opportunities faced by African governments under the theme ‘Repositioning African Governments in the Changing Global Order and Disorder.’

Mbeki says there’s a disconnect between ordinary citizens and those in authority. The annual South African Association of Public Administration and Management (SAAPAM) is a platform for scholars, policymakers, practitioners, and stakeholders to engage in meaningful discussions on the challenges and opportunities faced by African governments in today’s rapidly changing global landscape.

Solving problems

Delivering a virtual address at the gathering, Mbeki says the private sector is successfully solving problems in the face of the government’s failure to implement plans.

“Here we have this receding power of the state, its loss of authority and credibility, its inability to translate plans into action, and the growing disconnect between the ruling elite and those they govern, and this is where South Africa’s greatest opportunity for the future is to be found, in its innovative and resilient private sector and civil society, which are solving problems in the growing absence of the state and doing so successfully. In years to come, South Africa will become a case study of how private initiative succeeds where states fail. In political science, this is characterised as a counter-revolution, and a counter-revolution is not innocent, but in our case, a direct threat to our democratic state and the welfare and wellbeing of millions of our people.”

Minister of Public Service and Administration, Noxolo Kiviet, says her department will make it mandatory for public servants to join professional bodies to ensure accountability in the sector.

She lamented the lack of discipline in the sector.

“It’s going to be compulsory for public servants to belong to a professional body, and that professional body must ensure that there is accountability for the individual actions with respect to professionalism. It is only in the public service that we have 1.2 million people who are not necessarily all affiliated with professional bodies, and we believe that to enhance the discipline, we must make them belong to a professional body,” says Kiviet.

SAAPAM has been in existence for over 20 years and aims to contribute towards the development of good governance and effective service delivery.