Thursday, September 3, 2009

Public Service Convention Welcome Remarks by Mr. Eric M. Molale Permanent Secretary to the President

source: Republic of Botswana (23/8/09): TAUTONA TIMES no 23 of 2009
The Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President
"Democracy, Development, Dignity and Discipline"


[Salutations]...Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. I am greatly honoured to welcome you to the 2009 Public Service Convention marking the 11th annual caucus. I welcome Honourable Ministers Nasha and Masalila. I particularly want to extend a warm welcome to our Guest Speaker, my colleague and friend, Mr. Frans Kapofi, Secretary to Cabinet and Head of Public Service in Namibia, and his esteemed delegates, among them, the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Works and Transport, Mr George Simatae. Thank you for honouring my invitation.

2. You will recall that in 2007 we had our guest from Tanzania, Mr. Philimon Luhanjo, Cabinet Secretary and Head of Civil Service. This is in the spirit of sharing our experiences in the SADC Region and consolidating our efforts as a regional block. I have over the past years been also honoured to share our own experiences in Swaziland, Lesotho, Republic of South Africa, Mozambique and Tanzania.

3. Bagaetsho, the Public Service Convention is an Annual Event that accords us (Ministries, Districts and Departments) a platform to intermingle and reflect on our Performance; a platform for sharing experiences and challenges we encounter in our bid to improve the quality of services delivered to our citizens; and further to showcase innovation and accord participants opportunities for benchmarking. We have come a long way.

4. Let me be quick to point out that this year's convention has come at a time where we are faced with global economic crisis. As we sit throughout the deliberations we should be asking ourselves as to whether the achievements we are celebrating tonight are effective in our quest to reposition ourselves in dealing with emerging complexities, stiff global competition, global economic crisis, rapid technological advancement, (HIV&AIDS, H1N1 etc) among other things. This question has been eloquently put across by my colleague the Australian Public Service Commissioner recently and I quote:

5. "There has been nothing short of a revolution in the philosophy underpinning public service . . . Going by various modest names including 'renewal' 'reform' and 'modernisation,' we public servants have been relentlessly re-negotiating a new relationship with the 'citizen' - granting more power and choice to a more demanding public.

6. What once were highly independent and some might say, 'disconnected' public service departments, should now be departments that collaborate and work across jurisdictions in order to secure 'whole of government' solutions to issues such as deprivation, health and climate change. Our public service departments are working together in order to put the citizen first and organize themselves for the convenience of citizens and not the other way round" - unquote.

7. Botswana has not been spared from the effects of the economic downturn since we have over relied on diamond mining, a commodity that is vulnerable to market fluctuations. As a result, our Diamond sales have dropped since October last year and as a consequence a significant decline in revenue. This has had far reaching implications on Government spending, especially on the development budget. We have had budget cuts never experienced before, forgoing a number of programmes and projects. The Government had to refocus the planning approach to anchor on leverage areas and link expenditure to results and individual performance, hence the Integrated Results Based Management.

8. Ladies and Gentlemen, while a number of initiatives have been implemented across the Public Sector; some aimed at cost saving measures, while others were aimed at maximising returns on investments, I believe a lot more can be done to curb wastage, especially in the recurrent expenditure. Process efficiency should be viewed as a leverage area that will not only save costs but ensure delivery of services to our customers both external and internal. Efficiency is by the way about people effectiveness and timeliness.

9. In that regard, innovation & creativity by people, by you the Employees, become instrumental in deriving efficiency gains necessary to drive and sustain productivity initiatives and boost the economy. Innovation is all about providing break-through solutions that foster quick and simple processes to effectively deliver on the customer value proposition. The government so far has committed to invest in technology as a leverage point for innovation, as well as in skills development and institutional reforms.

10. We have seen good progress in this regard and if the 2009 Customer Satisfaction Survey is anything to go by, I need to commend you and I say WELL DONE. My fellow civil servants it is necessary that we celebrate but that should not lull us into complacency.

11. Ours needs to be a world class service, outstanding at all times and to achieve that, we need self driven, passionate men and women who will selflessly commit towards taking this nation to greater heights. The Theme for this year's convention is Transformational Leadership for Customer Focused Service - From Rhetoric to Consolidation and Effective

12. Ladies and gentlemen, Work Improvement Teams have over the years accorded employees time to think, plan & execute together, to explore new ideas and talk about new possibilities. It is no longer about how much you understand the tools and concepts of WITS but it is about the compelling evidence that demonstrates the delivery of results; it is about enhancing collaboration and fostering meaningful partnerships; it is about involving the customers in the design & implementation of solutions; it is about effectively executing on the organizational strategies and above all, it is the loyalty and pride that you show in serving this nation.

13. Transformational leadership is therefore necessary to inspire, to motivate and evoke creativity from employees, and most importantly to manage their performance so that they successfully deliver and sustain desired results.

14. We therefore need to foster a culture that is supportive, flexible & open to new ideas; a culture that nurtures talent and promotes team work. We know that leadership style has a profound influence on the way individual employees and organizations conduct their businesses. I am emphasizing this in light of the challenges we are facing of negative mindsets, poor attitudes and work ethics. However I am confident that the transformational leadership programmes like Coaching & Mentoring we have invested in will bear fruit.

15. Finally ladies and gentlemen, I have looked at the programme content, and I have no doubt that you will find the deliberations stimulating, inspiring and thought provoking. I can assure you that the next three days will prove fruitful, and I therefore challenge each one of you to "take away" a package of lessons learnt to implement in your organizations.

16. Distinguished guests, Honourable Ministers, ladies and gentlemen, with those few remarks, it is my honour to welcome you once more to the 2009 Public Service Convention. Thank You.

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