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A national Coat of Arms, or state emblem, is the highest visual symbol of the State.
|South Africa’s Coat of Arms was launched on Freedom Day, 27 April 2000. The change reflected government's aim to highlight the democratic change in South Africa and a new sense of patriotism.
The Coat of Arms is a series of elements organised in distinct symmetric egg-like or oval shapes placed on top of one another.
The lower oval shape represents the elements of foundation
The first element is the motto, in a green semicircle. Completing the semicircle are two symmetrically placed pairs of elephant tusks pointing upwards. Within the oval shape formed by the tusks are two symmetrical ears of wheat, that in turn frame a centrally placed gold shield.
The shape of the shield makes reference to the drum, and contains two human figures from Khoisan rock art. The figures are depicted facing one another in greeting and in unity.
Above the shield are a spear and a knobkierie, crossed in a single unit. These elements are arranged harmoniously to give focus to the shield and complete the lower oval shape of foundation.
The oval shape of ascendance
Immediately above the oval shape of foundation, is the visual centre of the Coat of Arms, a protea. The petals of the protea are rendered in a triangular pattern reminiscent of the crafts of Africa.
The secretary bird is placed above the protea and the flower forms the chest of the bird. The secretary bird stands with its wings uplifted in a regal and uprising gesture. The distinctive head feathers of the secretary bird crown a strong and vigilant head.
The rising sun above the horizon is placed between the wings of the secretary bird and completes the oval shape of ascendance.
The combination of the upper and lower oval shapes intersect to form an unbroken infinite course, and the great harmony between the basic elements result in a dynamic, elegant and thoroughly distinctive design. Yet it clearly retains the stability, gravity and immediacy that a Coat of Arms demands.
The oval shape of foundation
The ears of wheat
The human figures
The spear and knobkierie
The oval shape of ascendance
The secretary bird
The rising sun
The completed structure of the Coat of Arms combines the lower and higher oval shape in a symbol of infinity. The path that connects the lower edge of the scroll, through the lines of the tusks, with the horizon above and the sun rising at the top, forms the shape of the cosmic egg from which the secretary bird rises. In the symbolic sense, this is the implied rebirth of the spirit of our great and heroic nation.
The then Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology requested ideas for the new Coat of Arms from the public last year. Based on the ideas received, along with input from the Cabinet, a brief was written. The Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) then approached Design South Africa - an umbrella body representing design agencies across the country - to brief ten of the top designers. Three designers were chosen to present their concepts to the Cabinet. Mr Iaan Bekker's design was chosen for the new Coat of Arms. He is a director of the FCB Group and has designed numerous corporate identities for public and private sector organisations.
Batho Pele is a Sesotho phrase meaning ‘People First’, committing the public service to serve all the people of South Africa. The Batho Pele values and principles underpin the country’s Coat of Arms. On 1 October 1997, the Public Service embarked on a Batho Pele campaign aimed at improving service delivery, to the public. For this new approach to succeed, some changes need to take place. Public service systems, procedures, attitudes and behaviour need to better serve its customers – the public.
Batho Pele is a commitment to values and principles:
Batho Pele is about eliminating wasteful and expensive internal systems that were not designed to put the needs of the people first. It is also about making sure that the Public Service’s financial planning is in line with the public’s needs and priorities.
Most of the improvements that the public would like to see cost nothing, such as: a smile, treating customers with respect, being honest when providing information and apologising if things go wrong. These are not a matter of additional resources - they are a matter of adopting different standards of behaviour.
Improving service delivery is about re-aligning everything we do to ‘customer service’ principles. The implementation of Batho Pele is not a once-off task. It is a continuous, dynamic process, that will go on for many years, gathering momentum all the time.
We need to work jointly, as the Government and the public, to make the principles of Batho Pele a reality for a nation at work for a better life. (Speech by President Thabo Mbeki at the launch of the Coat of Arms, at Kwaggafontein, Bloemfontein, on 27 April 2000)