Public sectors all over the world face challenges and, thus far, public sector reforms have not been very successful. The public sector, as a key component of any economy, needs to address its challenges adequately to prevent economic growth and development from being curtailed. This article hopes to spark debate about whether too much emphasis is being placed on symptoms of public sector challenges instead of addressing these challenges at their root. The article focuses on the South African public sector – a third world country public sector − and examines reports by the Auditor General of South Africa and the Public Service Commission of South Africa for recurring themes and ﬁndings. The results of the study clearly suggest that the South African public sector is not yet adequately addressing its challenges at their roots, resulting in the challenges recurring year after year.