Government 'Must Improve the Way It Works, Get Better Results'

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BYLINE: President Jacob Zuma

In today's global and competitive world, a country's success is determined by many things. Key among these is a patriotic, effective and efficient cadre of public servants that translates government policies and programmes into tangible benefits.

On February 14, I delivered the State of the Nation address in which I outlined our government priorities for 2013. This being the last year of the fourth administration, the address took the form of a progress report to the nation. The minister of finance presented the Budget on February 27. Both the address and the Budget emphasised our resolve to continue tackling poverty, unemployment and inequality. We have the resources. We have the time.

We must now further improve the way we work and get better results... we have to work harder to improve people's experience of government services.

As we begin the new financial year, we urge public servants to work even harder to build a caring and efficient public service. Many meaningful achievements of government in the past year can be attributed to our hard-working public servants.

For example, in the health sector, life expectancy is now firmly on an upward trend. Infant and under-five mortality rates have improved significantly and the maternal mortality ratio has started to decrease.

Mother-to-child transmission of HIV has declined sharply and there has been a huge increase in the number of people living with HIV-Aids who are receiving antiretroviral treatment.

Similarly, there has been a significant decrease in overall serious crime, due to police officials who risk their lives at times to make our communities safer.

In basic education there has been a huge increase in the number of children attending Grade R and there have been improvements in the matric pass rate. The introduction of Annual National Assessments post-2009 enabled the objective measurement of literacy and numeracy levels at lower grades for the first time.

The basic education delivery agreement identified a number of required changes, including the introduction of workbooks, which have since been implemented. Targets are also being achieved in other key education areas such as the training of artisans and increasing enrolments in FET colleges.

Further, we have put in place a number of initiatives since 2009 to monitor citizens' experience when they obtain services from government. By November, citizens logged more than 140 000 cases with the Presidential Hotline, of which 87 percent have been resolved. …