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MBABANE - Principal Secretaries (PSs) are working without job descriptions.

This was revealed during the launch of the Performance Management System (PMS) for all government ministries and departments held yesterday. The launch of the PMS was in conjunction with the Change Management training for heads of department and PSs. Speaking during the function, PS in the Ministry of Tourism and Environmental Affairs Khangeziwe Mabuza, stated that the success of the PMS and Change Management relied on the PSs and heads of department within government. She noted that it was painful to know that the people who were entrusted with implementing or leading the spectacular concept which was crucial in service delivery were clueless.


She stated that as things were, a number of programmes within government and the present human resource were not aligned. She said this year, a new government would be entering office, therefore, it was crucial that when it came on board, it found even the officers clued-up. The country will be having national elections this year, which will see the appointment of new Cabinet ministers and a prime minister. Mabuza said there was an assumption that the PSs knew the ins and outs of their ministries, which she said was misleading. “PSs are promoted from nowhere and no one tells you what to do, what is wrong and what is right, you just find your feet in the office,” she said.

Due to the abrupt promotions, Mabuza said the officers ended up adopting whatever culture they found in that ministry. She said there was a constant need for the change of management programmes within government. “We should not lie to each other, we are far from being changed. There should be a creation of programmes that would capacitate leadership so that we can be able to pass knowledge to our officers,” she said. In addition, Mabuza pleaded with the Ministry of Public Service, as it was about to implement the PMS across all governments ministries and departments, to ensure that there were clear job descriptions for all civil servants and their managers.

The PS said there were no clear job descriptions within government departments. She added that some employees’ skills did not match the jobs they were deployed in. She revealed that it was not a surprise to find an economist performing duties that should be performed by a lawyer and an engineer holding an administrative job. She said the mix-up of qualifications and jobs would negatively affect the PMS and was solely due to the absence of job descriptions within government. Mabuza said they solely relied on the ‘any other duties’ in the employment contracts. Further, Mabuza said the absence of job descriptions was an issue even within the PSs.


“If you would ask any of the PSs in this room about their job descriptions, they won’t tell you,” she said. The PS said the absence of job descriptions also contributed to the poor performance of government ministries. Mabuza noted that the skills mix-up and absence of job descriptions lead to poor performance. She highlighted that most of PSs headed ministries services that they were not specialists of which were rendered by that ministry. She said when they were deployed to these ministries that had a completely different portfolio than what they had, they first had to familiarise themselves with the ministry before starting the job; which she said was time consuming. Mabuza had been moved from the Deputy Prime Minister’s (DPM) Office to the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, then to the Ministry of Tourism and Environmental Affairs in a space of four years.

She said it was crucial for PSs to be deployed to ministries they were professionals in. She made an example of the PS in the Ministry of Health, who is a medical doctor by profession.
Meanwhile, PS in the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Lindiwe Mbingo, said the job descriptions should be tailored for their different portfolios and be standard where they had to perform similar duties. She also pleaded for a standard format for all government documents. She said that might save the PSs from the wrath of the auditor general.

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