How the WC Office of the Premier scored best in PSC report

by The Editor

FEATURE: The Public Service Commission recently published a report assessing the performance of the nine Offices of the Premier. The only Office of the Premier not run by the ANC – in the Western Cape – came out on top. What follows is a summary of that report and a more detailed look at how the DA-run Western Cape Office of the Premier faired. There is some critical information in this article and some invaluable statistics. All in all, further proof that, where the DA governs, it delivers better services than the ANC, to more people.

How the WC Office of the Premier scored best in PSC report

By: Gareth van Onselen

11 June 2012


The Public Service Commission (PSC) – charged with monitoring and evaluating the performance of the public service – has recently released a report detailing the respective performances of the nine provincial Offices of the Premier. The Office of the Premier in the Western Cape was scored the best.

Obviously, as the Western Cape office is the only such Office not run by the ANC (Helen Zille serves as Premier of the DA-run Western Cape government), it makes for a powerful comparative analysis. In turn, it represents an excellent opportunity for the voters to compare and contrast the choices available to them: how well does a DA-run Premier’s Officer compare to those Offices run by the ANC?

The answer, according to the PSC, is that the Office of the Premier in the Western Cape outshines all eight ANC-run Offices. The report constitutes further proof that the DA simply runs a better show. Here is why.

About the report

The report, titled ‘Consolidated Monitoring and Evaluation Report on the Offices of the Premier 2010/11‘ uses a series of key indicators (draw from the constiution) to assess the performance of each Office. They were:

• Professional Ethics
• Efficiency, Economy and Effectiveness
• Development Orientation
• Impartiality and Fairness
• Public Participation in Policy-Making
• Accountability
• Transparency
• Good Human Resource Management and Career Development Practices
• Representivity

Each principle was drawn from Section 195 of the Constitution. Each province was then awarded a score out of five for each principle, as follows:

• 5: Excellent performance against all the standards [4.25-5.00] 81% – 100%
• 4: Good performance against most of the standards [3.25-4.00] 61% – 80%
• 3: Adequate performance against several of the standards [2.25-3.00] 41% – 60%
• 2: Poor performance against most of the standards [1.25-2.00] 21% – 40%
• 1: No performance against all the standards [0.25-1.00] 0% – 20%

For the purposes of this article, I shall focus exclusively on that information in the report that allows one to compare and contrast the various provincial administrations. Sometimes the PSC reports contains that exact information, others times I have had to restructure the information in the report to get the right comparisons.

Finally, by way of background: South Africa is divided into nine provinces; each province is administered by a provincial government; and, at the apex of each provincial government, is the Office of the Premier – the Executive Authority – charging with formulating and overseeing the general policy platform of that province and with ensuring its policy is translated into effective, efficient, transparent, accountable practice. While the Premier is the Executive at the head of the Office of the Premier, it is also run by a Director-General and a wide range of senior managers and advisors.

Thus, evaluating the performance of the Office of the Premier, tells one a great deal about the province in general. It is, in short, a key indicator of service delivery and good governance.

The PSC did undertake a similar such assessment before, but only for four provinces (The Western Cape, Gauteng, North West and Limpopo) but the PSC seems to go out of its way not to include the date of that previous assessment, so it is difficult to say when, exactly it is comparing current information with. Obviously that fact is important when it comes to the Western Cape: if the previous assessment was undertaken while an ANC administration was in control of the province, that too would make for an interesting comparison.

The findings

So, what were the findings?

First, the results of the overall assessment – the combined score for every principle, for each provincial Office. The following table from the report sets it out:

(To view a larger image of any graph, right click on it and select ‘view image’.)

The report’s conclusion best summerises the table:

“The best performer among the nine Offices was the WC, which attained “excellent performance against all the standards”, followed by the Offices in Gauteng (77%) and NC (64%) that achieved “good performance against most of the standards”. The remaining six Offices performed adequately against several of the standards, namely, NW (59%), Mpu (59%), FS (56%), KZN and Limp both with 54%, and lastly EC with a score of 47%.”

In short, the Western Cape was the stand-out performer, the only province to achieve an overall ‘excellent’ rating against every principle and to score an overall mark above 80% – 82%.

It is deeply significant that five ANC-run provinces did not manage even to score more than 60%, with one (the Eastern Cape) achieving less than 50%. Remember, the DA has only been in charge of the Western Cape since 2009. Because the PSC report does not give the date for the previous assessment (nor can I find it on the PSC website) it is difficult properly to put that mark into context; but it does appear from the report the previous assessment took place before 2010 (because it only made recommendations from it in that year), so it is fair to say it was in all likelihood its first assessment of the Office was when it was run by the ANC.

One way or the other, the Western Cape’s mark of 82% is, according to the report, the biggest improvement of the four provinces previously assessed (up from 40%). So, clearly things were not working before but, under the DA, they are now working better than any other province in the country.

But how does that overall mark break down by principle? Here are those nine breakdowns:

Principle 1: Professional Ethics

Essentially, this principle concerns the way in which the various Offices deal with misconduct. While the Western Cape tied KwaZulu-Natal with the best score (90%), it is worth highlighting the showing of the worst performer: Gauteng (50%). Its rating was, in large part, the result of the inordinate average number of working days it takes to process a complaint of misconduct – an extraordinary 284. The next worst, the North West, took 110 – still a lot but nothing like Gauteng. With regards to Gauteng, the report notes: “In the case of Gauteng, no reasons were submitted to explain the excessive time taken to resolve cases, despite the fact that the Office had been given an opportunity to provide comments.”

Principle 2: Efficiency, Economy and Effectiveness

The Western Cape tied third here, again with KwaZulu-Natal (60%). The two worst performers were the Northern Cape and the North West (40%). The North West’s low mark was largely attributed to the more than 15% it under-spent on its budget (the Western Cape under-spent by 1.2%). There is a credible reason, as cited by the PSC, for the Western Cape’s lower mark here: it had to restructure the Office of the Premier – something absolutely necessary to restore order to the chaos the previous administration had wrought. That it still tied third despite this is, in my view, impressive.

Principle 3: Development Orientation

The report concluded it was necessary to exempt all Offices from this principles on that basis that, “The standards applied by the PSC for this principle are not directly applicable to the policy direction, coordination, facilitation and M&E role of Offices of the Premier”.

Principle 4: Impartiality and Fairness

In order to assess Principle 4, the PSC used compliance with the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act (PAJA), Act 3 of 2000. PAJA is designed to ensure governments act fairly and give people the right to request reviews of government decisions. Thus, the degree to which each Office complies with PAJA’s regulations, the PSC argues, says something about its attitude to fairness. The Western Cape tied in first place with Gauteng and Mpumalanga with a score 100%. Significantly, four provinces failed to submit the correct information or, indeed, any information at all: KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, Eastern Cape and Limpopo.

Principle 5: Public Participation in Policy-Making

This principle looks at the degree to which each Office engages with the public when it came to formulating legislation. However, as the Western Cape had, at the time of the assessment, not produced any legislation, it could not be assessed. Its recent bill on police oversight, however, has been a model of public participation (although the Minister of Police seems not to have taken any notice) and so there is no reason to believe it will not fair well in this area in the next assessment.

Principle 6: Accountability

Here the PSC relied on the Auditor-General’s report and his assessment of the financial management of each Office (which seems, in my opinion, to be a rather narrow, financial definition of accountability). Seven of the nine Offices received unqualified audit opinions and so the general standard with regards to this principle was high. The Western Cape scored second with 85%, behind Gauteng. Two ANC-run provinces – the Free State and Limpopo – received a qualified opinion from the Auditor-General (for more on the Free State’s dire financial management, see here).

Principle 7: Transparency

Every public entity is required by law to produce an Annual Report which must report on that entity’s progress in implementing its performance plan. So, by assessing how readily available, forthright and seriously each Office takes their Annual Report, the PSC used this as the basis on which to assess those Office’s commitment to transparency. (Again, it seems like a rather narrow definition to me – why not include something like how well the Premier answers questions in the legislature, for example? Or corruption cases reported and dealt with?) The Western Cape tied Gauteng for second here (90%). Two provinces – the Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga – scored 50% and the North West again brought up the tail with 40%.  A commitment to transparency at provincial level, when it comes to Annual Reports, is generally fundamentally lacking among ANC administrations (see this blog). Generally the Western Cape is in another league on this particular front.

Principle 8: Good Human Resource Management

How well does each Office of the Premier manage its staff? Outside of, say teachers, doctors and nurses, the Office of the Premier usually employees the bulk of administrative staff in any provincial administration, so it is a significant employer, and question. The Western Cape led the pack with a score of 80%. Something, perhaps, for Cosatu to consider. One of the reasons it faired so well was that it exceeded the number of the skills development courses it was required to do (126%). Compared to Mpumalanga (7%), that is outstanding. In fact, the PSC had the following to say about it:

“A good practice of implementation was found in the WC, which ensured that all planned skills development activities were implemented via the Individual Development Programmes (IDP) of staff members and monitored on a quarterly basis via the performance cycle, and the insistence that all training must be accredited, which has resulted in a better quality of training.”

Principle 9: Representivity

Now here is a fascinating finding. In explaining why it focuses on representivity, the PSC says the following: “This Constitutional principle focuses on representivity, which requires that the work force should be broadly representative of the South African people.” We all know the ANC’s mantra on this issue: the DA only cares about whites. Well, low and behold if the DA doesn’t run, according to the PSC, the best rated Office of the Premier with regards to representivity in the country (it scored 70%). Here’s what the report says:

“Only the WC’s performance was good against most of the standards (70%). The remaining eight Offices’ performance varied between “adequate against several of the standards” (41% to 60%) for four Offices, namely, Gauteng, Limp, NC, and Mpu; “poor performance against most of the standards” (21% to 40%) for three Offices, namely, EC, FS, and KZN; and 20%, which is no performance against most of the standards, for NW.”

That, quite simply put, is a devastating finding.

It is, however, worth saying something about this. The PSC’s approach seems to be one that effectively advocates quotas, which is not what the constitution demands. Indeed, it goes so far as to evoke national demographic percentages as its gauge (the Western Cape, of course, has a different demographic profile to the rest of the country). And so, as with accountability and transparency, I am not sure this is the best way to go about assessing this principle.


The PSC report is rather simplistic and, in a number of respects, its methodology lacking somewhat. There are a great many other indicators which could be used to test the principles above and, often, its focus seems a bit bureaucratic. Nevertheless, the same measurements were applied to every province and across all of them, the Office of the Premier in the Western Cape was the best performer. That cannot be taken away from and the reason why deserves some consideration. Outcomes are one thing, but it is the attitude that underpins their achievement where any real insight is to be gained.

It is deeply significant that the Western Cape scored highest when it came to Human Resource Management and Representivity, and I look very much forward to hearing what Cosatu and the ANC have to say about that. It fairly shatters the racial and class propaganda it spews about the DA government. More to the point, perhaps both should spend more time focusing on those numerous ANC-run Offices that, according to the PSC, are bordering on being, if not actually, dysfunctional.

Finally, remember, this report is an assessment only of the Office of the Premier. Every provincial administration boasts a range of departments. I suspect you can be sure, were each of those held up to a similar comparative analysis, the respective DA-run departments would again come out on top.

There has, over the last few years, been produced by independent bodies like the Auditor-General and the Public Service Department, as well those departments run by the ANC itself (co-operative governance, for example) a raft of statistical information which suggests the DA runs a better government than the ANC. These are the facts. What South Africans do with those facts is another question.

The choice, as they say, is yours.

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