Public servants within the province of KwaZulu-Natal strive for excellence in service delivery and are committed to continuous service delivery improvement. This was the unanimous sentiment today as an outreach programme by the Minister for Public Service and Administration Mr Richard Baloyi concluded.
Accompanied by the KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Health Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, Minister Baloyi led an outreach programme as part of the Batho Pele Impact Assessment that entailed unannounced site visits to service delivery institutions and culminated in a meeting with public servants.
The province of KwaZulu-Natal is according to the Batho Pele Impact Assessment, the focal point for the Batho Pele principle of information and is tasked with developing and showcasing best practice on this principle through service delivery programmes and campaigns within the public service.
The MEC for Health Dr Dhlomo welcomed this initiative by the Department for Public Service and Administration (DPSA) adding that it was through such interventions and collaborative effort that we progress towards "an effective, efficient and development orientated public service".
A model for service delivery quality was showcased as Minster Baloyi paid the first unannounced visit to the Home Affairs offices in Umgeni, Durban. The visit focused on civic services, immigration services as well as the implementation of the Batho Pele principles. The principle of communication is central in these offices which have clearly visible signs, with numbered client counters displaying the service provided listed below and information boards that display services or products offered in these offices.
At reception front office staff engage with citizens ascertaining the service required, advising on the required documentation to access the service, then allocating a ticketed client reference number before referring them to the relevant counter. Queue walkers and a floor manager further direct and assist citizens on the floor. Adequate seating is provided for citizens in the waiting list. An intercom system with large TV display panels directs citizens by calling out and simultaneously displaying the reference number issued at door and directing holder to counter at first available opening.
Responding to the question by the Minister on what makes the system work; Regional Office Manager Mr T Dlamini said that open communication with clients ensured that service quality is enhanced.
"Communication is key to our work. We believe in creating value for money to our citizens through accessibility, accountability, transparency. In cases that need intervention of senior managers for redress, we have these posters on the walls with faces of all the senior managers within the department providing the landlines, mobile numbers as well as e-mail addresses of all senior officials including the Director-General" he added.
Mr Dlamini indicated that the ticketing system ensured the office could assist clients effectively as the office could track the trends of the number of recipients of their services and thus accordingly allocate human capital as well as the budgeting required in this regard. Mr Dlamini noted that the system also assisted in measuring productivity of officials.
A delighted citizen shared with Minister Baloyi that he had a pleasurable experience with the office, with all the officials he interacted with friendly and approachable, having his identity document application finalised within an hour.
The next unannounced visit was made to the King Edward Hospital also in Durban with the focus being on the process to ensure integrated services, the records management system as well as the hospital's compliance to the Batho Pele principles. Hospital management indicated despite staff shortages, the available staff went beyond their call of duty on a daily basis to ensure that the best quality service is afforded to citizens. Hospital staff led the Minister and MEC on procedures in the dispatch of medication as well as with the filing system.
During the unannounced site visits, members of the senior management service from the DPSA, the Office of the Premier as well as the Provincial Health Department were also deployed to different services points to identify, analyse and develop the appropriate intervention strategies to the service delivery challenges confronting the institutions.
The activities for the day culminated in a meeting with public servants. Addressing public servants, Minister Baloyi highlighted the importance of the site visits and the deployment of senior managers as part of these visits in that they are a method of addressing issues of leadership and management development; bridging the gap between policy formulation and challenges faced at implementation level.
The meeting also served as a platform to inculcate the "My Public Service, My Future" campaign which seeks to foster a new belief set for the public service. "In order for the revitalisation of Batho Pele to succeed, organisational culture has to be changed.
This means that departments should take stock of their values, as well as behaviours and attitudes of employees. Departments would then be able to take necessary steps to prepare public servants for the revitalised Batho Pele culture of responsiveness, efficiency and effectiveness in delivering services to the public" said Minister Baloyi.
In his closing remarks, Minister Baloyi welcomed the commitment displayed by public servants within the KZN health sector in striving for service delivery excellence.
Parting on an inspirational note, Minister Baloyi concluded that "As government we remain determined to ensure that the Batho Pele principles are reinforced and become a way of life for public servants.
These principles are aligned with the Constitutional values of promoting and maintaining high standards of professional ethics; providing service impartially, fairly, equitably and without bias; utilising resources efficiently and effectively; responding to people's needs; the citizens are encouraged to participate in policy-making; and rendering an accountable, transparent, and development-oriented public administration. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that these values are realised".