The sweeping sentiment emanating from delegates at the end of the department’s week-long Strategic Planning Session late last Friday night is one of appreciation for the beginning of a new growth path for DCS, activated by a momentous shift from the traditional strategic planning approach practised in the past.
Chairperson of the department’s Audit Committee Thobeka Njozela was effusive in her assessment of the new planning approach adopted by DCS. “Looking at the strategic session, it is different from others in the sense that it has a futuristic view of what is envisaged to happen in the next 5, 10 and 50 years”.
KwaZulu-Natal Regional Commissioner Mnikelwa Nxele said it was long overdue for DCS senior managers to gather with a view to holistically reflect on organisational performance, in line with its constitutional mandate. Speaking on the lessons that DCS can derive, he said, “The importance of integrated planning was accentuated, and that we can’t plan in isolation without hearing others. Equally, others can’t plan without hearing us; especially, our sister departments in the criminal justice cluster”.
Deputy Minister Thabang Makwetla returned on the last day of the session, and provided valuable inputs on the reports of the various commissions.
Encapsulating the extensive and insightful deliberations that took place over five days, National Commissioner Arthur Fraser said all inputs presented by the eleven commissions will be crystallised, integrated and presented to the Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services. Thereafter, he will embark on regional roadshows to engage with management and officials. He said the vision, strategies, implementation plans and timelines will be clear, and deadlines will be adhered to.
Mr Fraser said, “The mere fact that we got heads of institutions to come and talk to us and share their views, and the fact that we got representatives from various departments to sit in some of our commissions and make presentations, means that there is something that we have done fundamentally different than before, and we need to maintain that trajectory”.
The Commissioner noted the urgent need to develop a change management strategy and a risk management strategy, that is anchored on the principal departmental strategy. He highlighted the urgent need to review the organisational structure, to address the problem of duplication of functions and ensure that work processes and systems are properly streamlined.
Mr Fraser said addressing staffing needs at centre level is a priority. Further, he said head office must position itself as a centre of excellence that deals with research and development, sets norms and standards and ensures monitoring, compliance and evaluation.
Commissioner Fraser enjoined managers to commit and pledge to each other that they will be the ideal leaders required within corrections. He said the department can only espouse to develop an ideal correctional official if there is ideal leadership at the helm. He said he had observed that leaders of the department have the capacity, intellect and tenacity to do what is required, and understand what must be done. Mr Fraser said the Strategic Planning Session will assist in crafting something that is different, and may be a first in government.
The Commissioner thanked the task team for their commendable work in preparing for the session, as well as other teams that provided essential support in ensuring the success of the session.