Exploring the Path to Professionalisation: NSI’s Ivor Chipkin Shares Insights at PSC’s Retreat


The New South Institute (NSI) was privileged to participate in a major two-day retreat hosted by the Public Service Commission (PSC) in partnership with the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA), the National School of Government (NSG) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on 13-14 July. The retreat aimed to address the pressing issue of professionalising the public service in South Africa. NSI Director and co-founder Ivor Chipkin was invited to share his insights at this influential event, reflecting NSI’s position as a leading think tank on public service reform.

The event brought together esteemed government leaders, representatives from several agencies, and supportive social partners to engage in insightful discussions and plan a roadmap for public sector professionalization. NSI was proud to contribute to these transformative conversations.

On the first day, Chipkin participated in the panel discussion titled “What are the central challenges in the South African public sector and how should the professionalization framework be implemented to address these challenges.” This panel, which featured renowned personalities including Mr Mark Heywood from Daily Maverick, Ms Lisa Seftel from the National Economic Development and Labour Council, Mr Khulekani Mathe from Business Unity South Africa, Ms Tsankani Malukele, Auditor-General of South Africa, and Mr Rudi Dicks from the Presidency of South Africa, provided diverse perspectives on the topic.

During the panel, Chipkin emphasized the need to remove the powers of politicians to appoint and make operational decisions within departments, advocating for professionalizing these aspects by entrusting them to the public service. He emphasized that this should be the starting point for a reform process. These ideas echo the recommendations outlined in NSI’s recent publication, An Agenda for Reform: A Proposed Pathway Towards Professionalizing Public Administration in South Africa.

Insights shared by other participants further underscored the urgency for reforms. Mr Somadoda Fikeni, Chairperson of the PSC, questioned, “What is different now, and what will we do differently?” Yoliswa Makhasi, DG of DPSA, provided updates on the progress made in key public sector reforms aimed at deepening professionalization. Auditor General of South Africa, Ms Tsakani Maluleke, stressed the importance of competent and ethical appointments to enhance institutional performance, accountability, and transparency.

As the retreat concludes on July 14th, we look back at the inspiring discussions and collective commitment to professionalizing the South African public service. The engagement and collaboration displayed at the event, with NSI’s pivotal involvement, give us hope for meaningful reforms that can positively impact the public service sector. NSI remains dedicated to championing professionalization and continuing to be a constructive force for change.

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