Hon Chairperson, Cabinet colleagues, Deputy Minister for the Public Service and Administration, chairperson of the committee, members of the select committee, representatives of the SA Local Government Association, Salga, the Deputy Chairperson of the Public Service Commission, hon delegates to the House, the portfolio leadership in the Ministry, our distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, as we would say: Long live the spirit of Mama Sisulu. I want to thank you for affording us an opportunity to address this honourable House and debate our Budget Vote for the financial year 2011-12.
We tabled our budget before Parliament, in terms of which we committed ourselves to delivering services through the following institutions: the Department of Public Service and Administration, DPSA; the Public Administration Leadership and Management Academy, Palama; the Public Service Sector Education and Training Authority, PSeta; the Centre for Public Service Innovation, CPSI; the State Information Technology Agency, Sita; and the Government Employees Medical Scheme, Gems.
We also partner with the office of the Public Service Commission in our relationship, where we feature as good governance facilitators and with them providing administrative support to the Public Service Commission, an independent body that is a custodian of good governance.
About two weeks ago we debated the budget in the National Assembly and raised the following: that at the minimum our work is focused on achieving one of the 12 outcomes of government, under the theme "Building an efficient, effective and development-oriented Public Service and an empowered, fair and inclusive citizenship"; and that the maximum focus of this portfolio has to deal with all those issues that will ensure the total consolidation, stabilisation and activation of the state machinery around the sustenance of the values of our administration, affecting all three spheres of government, as well as the state-owned entities. In this respect, we are committed to giving special attention to supporting the local sphere of our government.
We also indicated that we will continue to give unwavering support to the work of the Public Service Commission to ensure a response to and compliance with the recommendations they make after investigations.
We reported that we are reviewing the ministerial handbook; that we continue to give support in the settlement of disputes between executive authorities and accounting officers; that we are championing a project for the repositioning of the Public Service for accelerated service delivery; and that we are intensifying the fight against corruption through the activities of the anticorruption unit and are playing a leading role in the work of the National Anticorruption Forum, in partnership with the government and civil society.
We said that Palama would soon become a preparatory school for entry to our Public Service. We also said that we would leave no stone unturned and dig into the history of PSeta to correct the wrongs.
As the country's focal point is the African Peer Review Mechanism, APRM, a voluntary instrument for peer review by African Union member states, we led the country in writing the second report accounting for the implementation of the national programme of action. We are proud to announce that we have been found to be in compliance with the instrument.
We are currently leading a project to write the third and final report to be submitted in the year 2013, which report will be a precursor to us being reviewed for the second time. In terms of the third report, we have committed ourselves to it largely focusing on the subject of xenophobia. This will give our peers an opportunity to engage with us on this difficult topic, and we will be able to use the opportunity as a mirror for introspection. Consultations have started and we would appreciate the involvement of Parliament, as we have previously made a call for such, particularly on honourable House, owing to its legislative co-ordination role across the three spheres.
Two weeks ago, we said the following about Sita, and I quote:
We will give a targeted record of Sita performance during the presentation of the same budget at the National Council of Provinces in two weeks' time, under the theme "Sita today, Sita tomorrow, Sita to the future", where we will give an account as to why we have embarked on a turnaround strategy, what the strategy entails, what we achieved through the strategy and what we are doing to consolidate the gains arising from the strategy.
Today, we are giving an account of such matters, and I would like to reflect as follows. After an extensive consultation with the stakeholders during 2009, we resolved that serious interventions were required to address the challenges faced by Sita. The challenges that required serious and immediate attention spanned the areas of poor service delivery; the absence of an integrated customer relationship management approach; procurement processes fraught with weaknesses, culminating in irregular expenditure and noncompliance with regulatory frameworks; the perceived high cost and pricing models; the high turnover rate of leadership at the executive level and the lack of core skills; and poor governance leadership. All these have impacted on Sita, as we have explained, and which we then said we needed to turn around.
The Sita turnaround strategy has identified seven strategic outcomes for the period until 2014, which are as follows: delivering quality service delivery to the public sector; being a proficient lead agency in public sector information and communication technology, ICT; providing effective and integrated public sector ICT supply-chain management; having competitive pricing and financial sustainability; being an effective ICT regulator; doing effective governance and monitoring; and being an employer of choice.
In this regard, we will not have what has happened - as we celebrate Sita's 10 years of existence - which is the agency having had more than 10 chief executive officers.
Sita has achieved the following deliverables to date, as set out in the turnaround strategy: a fully constituted board of directors, which was appointed during April 2010; a chief operations officer was appointed during November 2010; a chief executive officer was appointed during January 2011; and all outstanding executive appointments will be finalised during the fourth quarter of this calendar year.
It should be noted that, whereas there has been much talk on Sita's challenges, which we are addressing as per the strategy, we can still refer to a record of service delivery, featuring the following highlights, to mention but a few. A telemedicine project is currently under way at the departments of health and social development in Limpopo. This project entails the upgrading of infrastructure to ensure suitability for the utilisation of telemedicine equipment and facilities, thus ensuring that citizens in the rural communities receive adequate health consultations for effective health care. Of the 14 sites identified, 10 have been successfully upgraded.
The national network upgrade programme for the SA Police Service has made some progress, and the ICT teams deployed have ensured high service delivery levels. The high level of service excellence on the active directory support at the Mpumalanga department of education has raised the potential of the integration of IT support functions.
Sita successfully hosted the Independent Electoral Commission's call centre during the local government elections of 2011. The development of a master systems plan, MSP, for the Mpumalanga department of social development is well under way, and phase one of the project is nearing completion.
The printing of the preliminary results for the matric class of 2010 was successfully completed by 30 December 2010, as per commitment. On 1 January 2011 the printing of the Grade 12 examination results and the Adult Basic Education and Training - Abet - results started. The period 1 January to 3 January was critical, as the results had to be completed by 5 January, ensuring that Sita met the expectations of the Department of Basic Education.
The poverty index system, which was implemented as a pilot project for the City of Johannesburg, in collaboration with the departments of housing, social development and health, provides a composite view of indigent citizens. It enables the city to track human development in its constituencies and support government objectives in the war against poverty.
In order to regain lost confidence and to give space for the implementation of the turnaround strategy, we led consultation processes and will continue to do so with national and provincial government departments. Through these engagements, Sita is expanding its base.
Five out of the nine integrated finance management system modules have been built or acquired. Sita also provides connectivity to the Thusong centres. The Sita Library Information Management System, Slims, has been implemented to replace legacy systems at provincial and public libraries nationally. So far, provincial libraries one metro in the City of Cape Town and 85 public libraries, have been migrated. Sita is on track to meet the deadline of December 2011 for full migration.
Chairperson, as I share with you the report on these results, allow me to restate that the reasons why Sita was established in 1999 were primarily in order to achieve the following: to ensure that government reaps the benefits of bulk purchasing of ICT goods and services; to deliver e- government services as part of improving citizens' access to public services; to re-engineer the business processes of government in order to improve Public Service efficiency and processes; to facilitate public- private partnerships on risks and reward-sharing in the acquisition of ICT goods and services; to develop, in collaboration with other government institutions, the national information management systems and technology, IMST: and to develop an ICT skills development plan.
In terms of the turnaround strategy, we are now at the stage of reconciling the Sita performance profile with the objectives of its development. The provision of government services on the Internet means that Sita must provide wider service coverage for government through the government network, and therefore costs must be drastically reduced, whilst government network utilisation is optimised.
The optimal utilisation of the Sita Next Generation Network, NGN, must result in the reduction of overall voice and data costs. Sita will drive the programme to ensure that all government departments use the value-added services of the network. Through Sita, we will soon unveil an electronic mechanism for the declaration of interests by SMS members.
Mufambisi wa ntirho, mi nge hi pfala bulu ra hina hi ku kombisa leswaku vatirhelamfumo i vanhu va nkoka swinene. Hinkwaswo leswi hi tibohaka leswaku hi ta swi endla tanihi mfumo, hi endla tano hi ku tiva leswaku va kona naswona va tihlengeletile emiehleketweni ya vona ku korhokela tiko. Hina va ndzawulo hi simekile pfhumba leri hi lerisaka hi ri tiko leswaku hi veka mahlo ya hina ehenhla ka vona hi vula hi ku, "Mutirhelamfumo wa mina, vumundzuku bya mina". Hi ri karhi hi londza leswaku na vona va tlherisela hi xandla va vula leswaku, "Ina, hi kona hi tiyimiserile ku tirha". (Translation of Xitsonga paragraph follows.)
[Chairperson, allow us to close this discussion by indicating that public servants are people of great importance. Everything that we commit ourselves to doing as government, we commit to knowing that they are there and that they have made up their minds to serve the nation. We, as the department, have launched a campaign that is guiding us as a nation to fix our eyes on them and it says, "My Public Servant, My Future". We also demand that they reply by saying, "Yes, we are here and we are ready to work."]
We continue with our consultation on the project "My Public Servant, My Future", and yesterday we had a session with the Black Business Executive Council, which is a forum of chief executive officers in the private sector. We appreciate their views on this matter, and we will surely take them on board. We will continue to consult and will consult academia, broader civil society, public servants themselves and this very august House and Parliament. It is time to focus on our public servants for information-sharing and empowerment. Chairperson, thank you very much for this opportunity. I present the budget. [Applause.]