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ANC’s top politicians ‘going back to school’ to learn about ethical conduct

The National School of Governance has confirmed that officials from ‘three spheres of government’ will be expected to enroll in a training programme that aims to teach politicians ‘how to build an ethical state’. Representatives from state-owned entities and other political circles will also be asked to take part in classes.

Ministers, MPs, and other top elected officials will attend ‘ethics lessons’

The plans were first shared by Jackson Mthembu in August, as South Africa was left reeling from the COVID feeding frenzy. Multiple government officials – including the president’s spokesperson – were able to profit from the procurement of desperately-needed PPE equipment, sending the ANC into an all-too-familiar crisis.

“Government has approved two training courses to build the capacity of the state. This must be enhanced. Members of the Executive from all spheres of government – from ministers to premiers, and mayors to MECs – we will be asked to broaden learning perspectives and educate ourselves about government. Cabinet, all of us, will go back to school.”

Jackson Mthembu, August 2020

What will politicians learn on their ethics courses?

On Tuesday, the NSG made it clear that they were looking for both participants and ‘class teachers’

to take-up their ETD training course. They have been given the mandate to provide a course of education for some of the most powerful people in SA:

  • The NSG has implored government officials to sign-up as ‘mentors and trainers’ for the programme.
  • Officials will not receive additional remuneration beyond their current conditions of service.
  • But the NSG will reimburse the releasing department or organisation for the official’s travel, accommodation, and subsistence costs.
  • Classes will be taught through face-to-face and virtual sessions, online seminars, training workshops, and thought leadership platforms.

“The NSG’s mandate has been expanded to provide education, training, and development (ETD) in the three spheres of government, the state-owned entities, and other organs of state. In order to meet the demands of this expanded mandate, the NSG seeks to draw and deploy this experience as part of measures designed to build an ethical and capable state.”

NSG statement

‘Back to school’ for South African politicians

The Minister for the Public Service and Administration, Senzo Mchunu, has written to departments requesting them to release qualifying officials to undertake these tasks. Interested officials will be rigorously screened and assessed:

“Public servants in the three spheres of government will greatly benefit from training that is delivered by knowledgeable, experienced and ethical serving public servants.”

Senzo Mchunu

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