Ladies and Gentlemen
I am always pleased to be part of events that celebrate success and achievement
I am particularly pleased when I share in celebrating the achievements of young people. Well done. I am proud of you and hope that this is the start of great things to come.
This is a special moment in your lives.
You have completed one of the best management programmes available. It has equipped you with advanced problem-solving skills. During your studies you were exposed to new knowledge, which you have embraced and which you will now use effectively in Home Affairs.
All managers in an organisation need training that will teach them the necessary skills and tools for both strategy formulation and implementation.
In the past Home Affairs has not been the government department of choice for the best managers. I hope that all of you will play a part in turning that reputation around in the future.
At first blush it might seem odd for Home Affairs to send managers to a business school for training in public-sector management. Surely management in the public sector is different to management in the business world?
Yet there is no doubt that the public sector has been influenced by business models.
Since the turnaround strategy 95% of IDs are issued within 47 working days and 95% of machine readable passports are issued within 24 working days, and the annual target of 594 000 births registered within 30 calendar days of the birth event has been met. The Department of Home Affairs should reflect on and retain and build on these achievements.
In the 2010/2011 financial year Home Affairs also achieved its first unqualified audit in 16 years. It was an achievement of which all in the department are proud.
How did government turn a department around from failure to success, from disservice to service, from master of all citizens to servants of all citizens?
In 2007 Home Affairs began yet another of its turnaround strategies. But it was one that worked.
What did we do differently to the earlier turnaround strategies? We diagnosed the problem, using business models and techniques, and then we developed a holistic programme that amounted to a fundamental transformation of the ethos of non-service in Home Affairs.
We learned to treat citizens as customers. We learned to provide citizens with a fast and efficient service. We learned to empower managers. And that is what your course was all about. You cannot change the way things are done without having managers who are sharp and efficient and innovative. That is what Wits has helped you to become.
The turnaround strategy was planned to take place over five years, but within the first two years transformation was already apparent. A 2009 customer satisfaction survey showed that 93% of its ‘customers’ were impressed with the new waiting times for documents. The department had in place improved customer services, a solid foundation in improving the financial and accounting processes, as well as significant savings in key areas.
The evidence of how well Home Affairs was doing lay in the awards it won - best public procurement project and customer contact centre in 2007, first prize in the Technology in Government in Africa, Public Service Award for the ID transformation project in 2009.
I trust that your interaction here at Wits impressed upon you the importance of collaborative work - to winning awards and serving citizens - and I hope that you have been inspired to continue working together by your lecturers. Individual and unit based approaches to our work needs to be changed to a dynamic integrated partnership between programme, offices and officials.
I specifically want to challenge you to make public service visible in your work. I want to remind you to give attention to your own development but also to keep the country’s development squarely in your mind.
You are a resource we will call upon to enhance our progress.
As certificated managers you should play an enhanced role in your branches and sections.
I would like to congratulate Wits Business School on teaching another cohort of graduates successfully.
We regard it as imperative that our management programmes are structured in a way that allows interaction and engagement with the realities of our society. I hope that you will continue to extend your management abilities in the public service you provide for South Africa.
I would, therefore, like to close by congratulating you on your success. May you go from strength to strength in the good work that you do for Home Affairs.
All the best.