PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma's cabinet lekgotla kicked off in Tshwane yesterday.

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma's cabinet lekgotla kicked off in Tshwane yesterday.

The lekgotla's agenda is broadly about working out a programme of action for the government - which Zuma will outline in his State of the Nation address next month.

It is expected that the gathering will deal with some of the most crucial issues that the Zuma government is currently faced with.

Some of these issues include the poor quality of education pupils in this country continue to receive.

Given the country's developmental needs, having a good quality education system is a must. This, among others, entails having an education system that produces individuals with skills that match the country's needs.

Given the service delivery protests that ravaged the country last year, it is obvious that the government needs to jack up its act when it comes to the provision of basic services such as access to water, electricity and housing.

In this regard the government also needs to deal with the challenge of corrupt officials who continue to undermine its bid to improve service delivery.

What happened in the North West - where municipalities have been brought to a standstill by unscrupulous public servants and "tenderprenuers" as partners in crime - is a case in point.

These rogue officials need to be flushed out of the system. The unfortunate reality is that many of them are still embedded because of their political connections.

A major step in dealing with the scourge will be to depoliticise the public service. As it is, politically connected individuals have turned our public service into a self-service sector for greedy individuals who regard the state as a source for self-enrichment.

The negative effect that these nefarious deeds have on service delivery is self-evident.

Of even more concern is that the millions of state money spent on these projects does nothing to improve the country's productive capacity.

This is because the individuals involved are not entrepreneurs committed to creating jobs and contributing to the economic development of the country.

Hopefully the lekgotla will come out with concrete plans on how to deal with these challenges.

Failure to do so will lead to despair among the majority of South Africans who last year endorsed the Zuma government.

On the positive side, the lekgotla comes at a time when the clouds hanging over the proposed National Planning Commission (NPC) are clearing.

Last week the Minister of National Planning Commission Trevor Manuel came out to clarify the powers of the NPC.

This after the NPC had been sidelined by several red herrings, including objections from Cosatu that it was to become some "superministry" that will determine the country's macro-economic policy ran by Manuel.

There was also the concern that the NPC would have executive powers overriding the cabinet.

Manuel has clarified the matter to say that the NPC will devise long-term plans to inform policy making, but any decisions will still be up to the cabinet.

This, anyway, is how NPC's operate in countries where they have been established.

The NPC is an important tool for integrated planning - a factor which had been poor in previous ANC-led governments.

The body will go a long way to assist the government to do long-term planning when it comes to critical issues such as energy and water security, education, as well as developing the country's overall developmental trajectory.

To achieve these objectives, the commission needs committed South Africans with the necessary skills.

What it does not need are deployees driven by narrow political interests at the expense of the broader South African society.

Let those South Africans with the required skills stand up and be counted.

And let them be allowed the opportunity to serve their country without any impediments.