ISSUE 09 | 2015

 

BAETAPELE OF THE EASTERN CAPE SHOW THE WAY!

Dear Colleagues,

On Tuesday, 21st July, until Wednesday, 22nd July a team of the top officials from the Ministry and Department visited the Eastern Cape Province. This was, of course, our sixth provincial working visit since the President inaugurated the fifth administration.

The visit consisted of a meeting with the provincial managers on “The State of the Organisation” in the province, a dinner with our officials, opening a new Moetapele office in East London, visiting the maternity ward at Frere hospital in East London in support of our child birth registration and engaging in two community outreach programmes in Kwelerha and Parkside to listen to public issues, solve problems and address some of the issues that are important for the Department.

Two things are worth mentioning about the very first day of our visit, both of which signalled the sense of business, purpose and mission of our working visit; namely,

  • Firstly, the gala dinner with the officials was attended by the Honourable Premier of the Eastern Cape, Mr. Phumulo Masualle and two executive mayors of the Great Kei and Buffalo City. This was the first time in the six provinces we have thus far visited that the Premier and two executive mayors attended our dinner and our officials had the occasion and honour to be addressed directly by the Premier of the province in which they serve. In his address, Premier Masualle emphasised the important of service excellence, cooperative governance and working together to solve the problems of our people in a dignified, professional and effective way. In this way, he hit the nail on the head regarding the very spirit of the Moetapele Initiative;
  • Secondly, our meeting with the provincial management started at 17h00, adjourned for the dinner at 20h00, and resumed after the dinner at 22h00 until after past mid-night. During the meeting, the provincial management presented not only the “State of the Organisation”, they also presented their own version of “the department’s end-state” in the province. Needless to say, this was as exciting as it was innovative for us from HQ because we grappled with an ambitious vision which challenged the HQ itself to think out of the box when it comes to the department and to seek additional ways to support this province if they must fulfil their “end-state” vision. What further inspired us was the manner they presented the challenges they face as the province and the solutions they seek, challenging the HQ to be responsive in all its facets to the challenges faced by and solutions sought by our structures on the ground.

The Eastern Cape management tore apart every presumption I had earlier had about them and their province and renewed my hope and faith in the capacity we have in the department. Their collective and individual grasp of the organisation, the programmes they are implementing, the challenges they face and solutions they seek was characteristic of the Moetapele Initiative, and instilled a renewed sense of optimism in all of us from HQ.

What bothered me above everything else was the important fact we seem to be doing and achieving so much in the Eastern Cape, in two metros and six districts whilst only having only half (four) the DMOs. Four DMO positions – including both Metros – are classified as unfunded vacant posts and have been so for the last two years.

This means that at least at a leadership level, the organisation in the Eastern Cape is under- capacitated. Clearly, with full capacity, so much more could have been achieved.

More concerning is that the HQ has neither budgeted for these vital posts nor prioritised them. It has not reorganised itself in order to support provinces nor has it created a platform at national level where these issues are discussed strategically and strategic decisions taken to resolve them.

As a result, the organisation, at some levels, seems to be on auto-pilot and there is no consistent and systemic support structures and mechanisms from HQ for provinces and front-offices.

This must and is going to change!

Quite clearly, the HQ has not organised itself in a manner that enables it to provide leadership and support to the provinces and front-offices and I have directed the DG to pay attention to this.

I have also directed that our MMM (Minister’s Management Meeting) which meets every fortnight must regularly discuss “The State of the Department”, attended by all the nine provincial managers so that we can have a full view of the organisation, its programmes and challenges, and find ways to address these.

This is important because up until now, MMM only discussed individual programmes that need implementation, challenges as well as implementation issues but we never gave ourselves time and opportunity to discuss strategic issues pertaining to the organisation as a whole except quarterly during review sessions.

Even then, those discussions are structured in a bureaucratic manner that does not enable us to throw up all the issues they raised in the Eastern Cape, which helped to have a better grasp of how they are organised, what they are doing and what challenges they face.

But, it stands to reason that if we at HQ must do this, and have these discussions, then Provincial Managers must also have a better grasp of the state of the organisation in their provinces so that they, and not the Secretaries or Administration Assistants, can present those reports to us when we are there.

I demand more and better from our Provincial Managers, not merely because we pay them well, but because they are the heads of department in their respective provinces and Moetapele must start with them!

The following day, on the 22nd, amidst very cold and wet weather, we further undertook extensive public outreach programmes in the (Eastern Cape) province, which included opening the new Moetapele office in East London.

Our clients were very happy with the new office and the service they get.

Members of Stakeholders’ Forum raised the issue that this should not be the case only because or while we are there; but must become the lived experience of Home Affairs.

They raised serious issues about how we work with them regarding community challenges and our programmes, and how the more we can support them in pursuit of our programmes.

Our interaction with the Stakeholders’ Forum highlighted the urgent need for the national conference we had agreed in April to convene. This must be convened without delay.

One of the highlights of our programme was the visit to the Frere Hospital where Ms Rolene Wagner, CEO, the management of the hospital and the Chairman of the Board received us most warmly and kindly and took us on the tour of the hospital, briefed us on its history and its operations.

This was, apparently, the first time a national Minister had visited the hospital in the long years of its existence, and they were as excited about this as we were.

Before we visited the maternity ward to issue birth certificates to newly-born babies, Ms Wagner made a moving presentation on the turnaround of the hospital, highlighting how they moved the hospital from being negatively written about to being the toast of the town now. This does not need good spin-doctors and huge marketing budgets; but, it takes a vision, commitment and Moetapele to achieve what Frere Hospital has achieved.

She is a visionary and energetic leader who exudes confidence and high spirits, she cares about her hospital’s clients and staff and draws the best out of everybody. In just a few minutes while we were in the hospital, she inspired us too and left us in no doubt that she a real Moetapele!

I advised the PM to invite Ms Wagner to come present her leadership principles and lessons to our DMO and other managers. We have a lot to learn from her and other such leaders in the public and private sector!

Afterwards, seeing those precious little innocent babies and their excited mothers just made our day. Even if this was the only thing we did that day, we would have walked away from the Eastern Cape fulfilled.

As we prepare to end the Late Registration of Birth as a programme on 31 December 2015, the question we must all answer is, what programmes must we implement to ensure that we register every newly-born within 30 days, whether they are born at home or hospital. This cannot be accomplished by the Department acting alone. We need a massive campaign involving traditional, religious and community leaders, youth and women’s organisations, and other agencies including the schools, hospitals and clinics.

Three obstacles arise in this regard: namely, first, cultural obstacles, secondly, religious obstacles and thirdly, complacency. We need to overcome these obstacles in order to achieve our target of registering every single child for birth. Achieving a 100% compliance will be a major coup for the Department of Home Affairs.

However, I have directed that a national meeting be convened in August to discuss this matter. Among other things, I am concerned about the arbitrary and unscientific targets we seem to be setting ourselves every year and the varying programmes we are pursuing in each province or office. Frankly, we are pushing numbers and paying little attention to the quality of the work we are doing so that we enhance performance and draw necessary lessons for our future work.

Our officials braved bad weather to deliver services to the public in Kwelerha and Parkside. I was impressed by the enthusiasm on their faces and the diligence with which they worked. If they worked this diligently because I was there, I beseech them to continue impressing me even when I am not physically there!

Let every single one of our officials know that I am there with them in spirit every day and every single moment; that I support you and standing steadfastly in your corner every day. I believe in you and believe in the work you do for our people.

Finally, I want to thank all our officials in the Eastern Cape – baetapele – who are doing so much for our people!

I thank also Mr. T. Mnunu, Ms BB Gasa and Mr. NL Stuurman who are working very hard in the province servicing more than one district office each, as well as Mr. G. Mabulu for his leadership. More can be done to provide the province with the quality leadership it deserves and to provide them with support.

However, both the HQ team as well as myself were deeply impressed with the leadership they demonstrated in front of us. Moetapele spirit is alive in the Eastern Cape.

 

Thank you,

Malusi Gigaba MP Minister of Home Affairs