The Annual Report on Employment Equity in the Public Service 2013/14 is presented as we celebrate 20 years of democracy; 18 years since the enactment of the South African Constitution, 16 years since the promulgation of the Employment Equity Act and 60 years since the adoption of the Women’s Charter in 1954.

The Constitution, as we know, confers and protects the rights of all citizens and also identifies the principles and values that should characterise Public Administration, while the Employment Equity Act outlaws discrimination and promotes equality in the workplace. It is on the basis of these frameworks and other instruments discussed in this report that the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) monitors and reports on the achievement of employment equity in the Public.

The report provides extensive data on the representation of the Public Service Workforce in terms of age, disability, gender and race. Included in the report is a summary of trends on the representation of youth, people with disabilities and women over the past 20 years. The representation of both people with disabilities across all levels of the Public Service and women at Senior Management show an upward trend, although it is not at the equity target levels yet. Representation of youth shows a downward trend.

The latter is a cause for concern as youth employment is one of the priorities of government and an important part of the future Public Service cohort. In the previous annual report, 13 departments had met the 50% employment equity target for women at Senior Mangement, and 16 departments had met the 2% equity target for people with disabilities.

In the case of disability, South Africa ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) on 30 November 2007. The convention places various obligations on governments and in this respect; Article 27-1 (g) on work and employment says “employ persons with disabilities in the public sector.”

With regard to the disability employment equity target at provincial level, no province met the 2% target. Gauteng Province had the highest representation of people with disabilities at 0.98%, followed by national departments. Gauteng also had the best improvement as it was on 0.13% at the end of the 2011/12 financial year.

This improvement, though still below the minimum requirement, can in part be attributed to the close monitoring, compliance enforcement,  technical support that DPSA has provided since 2011, and the encouragement for departments to develop and implement remedial plans. The Office of the Premier (OoP) in this province has lead by example in this area and has  representation of people with disabilities at 3.49%, which is well above the minimum target. What is required now is for the OoP to share the strategy they used with the provincial departments so that they can achieve the same success. Seven other Offices of the Premier (except for the Eastern Cape) also lead by example. Limpopo and Mpumalanga have met and exceeded the target while all the other five, Free State, KwaZulu Natal, North West, Northern and Western Cape have representation above 1%.

When looking at the overall provincial performance, the Western Cape is the only province that has regressed from 0.39% in 2011/12 to 0.36% in 2013/14. The Free State and KwaZulu Natal provinces have the lowest representation at 0.23% respectively.

KwaZulu Natal has, however, shown some progress as they were at 0.14% at the end of the 2011/12 financial year.

Young people with disabilities do not have the same chances as their counterparts to access Public Service employment. There are 340 460 young people in the Public Service, but youth with disabilities constitute 1 075, a mere 0.32%. The highest representation of people with disabilities at 0.76% is found in the 55-59 age groups and this is a concern as this group is approaching retirement. This is compounded by the fact that the intake of disabled people is slow and if this does not improve, the representation of people with disabilities could decrease significantly in the near future.

I was also very pleased to see that some departments have met both targets. I would like to congratulate and encourage these departments to maintain this standard and to help others to achieve our goals. For those departments that have met one target, apply the lessons learned in that achievement to achieve the other target.

In conclusion, I hope that this report affirms departments that are compliant and encourage and inspires those that are not, to do better. I also hope that you will all find this report a useful planning tool for transformation and empowerment programmes as you move forward so that the Public Service can become not only a true reflection of our country, but an employer of choice for all citizens, especially women and people with disabilities.