Trevor's big plan for SA
The National Planning Commission wants cabinet ministers to be stripped of their power to appoint senior officials to their department.
The commission has also slammed the way in which the government appoints directors-general, saying the current practice "blurs the lines of accountability".
In its National Development Plan 2030 document titled Our Future - Make it Work, presented to President Jacob Zuma by National Planning Minister Trevor Manuel in parliament yesterday, the committee tore into the ANC's "cadre deployment policy" - but it did not call it that.
"In South Africa, the current approach to appointments blurs the lines of accountability. The requirement for [the] cabinet to approve the appointment of heads of departments makes it unclear whether they are accountable to their minister, to [the] cabinet or to the ruling party," the commission says in its Make it Work document.
The document also criticises the power of cabinet ministers to appoint senior officials.
"This makes it difficult for directors-general to carry out their day-to-day responsibilities . Reforms are needed to ensure that directors-general are accountable to their minister and that departmental staff are accountable to their director-general."
In current practice, ministers have the prerogative of appointing their deputy director-general with the concurrence of the cabinet. The cabinet must also approve the appointment of directors-general.
There have been concerns in government circles that some deputy directors-general, who enjoy close relationships with their minister, were undermining their directors-general, some of whom are known to have frosty relations with their minister.
The cadre deployment policy, which has been blamed for deteriorating service delivery, especially at local government level, was heavily criticised by ANC delegates to the party's national policy conference in Midrand in June.
The NPC has proposed that:
The role of the Public Service Commission in the recruitment of senior government staff be strengthened;
A hybrid approach to top appointments be adopted to allow "the reconciliation of administrative and political priorities";
An administrative head of the entire public service be appointed to manage "the career progression of heads of department, including their performance assessments and disciplinary procedures; and
Senior officials must be given full authority to appoint staff in their department.
"We seek a professional civil service that can weather changes in political administrations," Manuel said.
The document makes recommendations on tackling economic issues and job creation over the next 20 years.
Crucial proposals on the economy and employment include increasing exports and preventing the over-valuation of the currency.
The 484-page document also calls for improved skills development and breaking disincentives to the hiring of young people, and increasing competition and breaking monopolies.
It advocates the strengthening of the social wage to raise the living standards of people in low-paid jobs.
Political parties have generally welcomed the plan.But most of them doubt that the government can implement it.