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Ministers urged to cut down on advisers as government tries to slash costs

Minister of Public Service and Administration Senzo Mchunu has warned his colleagues in the cabinet to cut down on special advisers. Picture: Sibonelo Ngcobo / ANA

Minister of Public Service and Administration Senzo Mchunu has warned his colleagues in the cabinet to cut down on special advisers. Picture: Sibonelo Ngcobo / ANA

Published Oct 6, 2019

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Cape Town - Minister of Public Service and Administration Senzo Mchunu has warned his colleagues in the cabinet to cut down on special advisers.

Mchunu also said special advisers must be vetted and those serving on boards of entities falling under their ministers must resign as this would constitute a conflict of interest.

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The letter to ministers comes as the government works to cut costs.

The National Treasury has issued an expenditure ceiling of R25billion for the next three years.

This would include the freezing of certain posts.

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Mchunu said his department had set up provisions for the appointment of special advisers since the term of the current government began in May.

“My office has received requests from (ministers) requesting approval for the awarding of appropriate compensation levels to their individual special advisers,” wrote Mchunu in a circular.

He said for these requests to be met there were certain provisions that needed to be met.

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He said the cabinet had approved the appointment of two special advisers to a minister, but if there was a need for one or two more advisers a minister would need to approach the cabinet.

However, a minister who wants an additional special adviser would have to write to Mchunu first before the matter was referred to the cabinet.

“Alternatively an executive authority may appoint up to four part-time special advisers instead of two full-time special advisers.

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“Therefore, the hourly tariffs of 40 hours per week may be divided between the four part-time advisers, which will be equivalent to two full-time advisers.”

Mchunu said MECs and deputy ministers at national level were not allowed special advisers.

He said ministers and premiers could share their special advisers with deputy ministers and MECs.

He said advisers must be vetted before being appointed.

“A candidate for appointment as a special adviser should be subjected to a security clearance before appointment,” said the minister.

He added that advisers were not allowed to serve on the boards of institutions that account to their ministers.

Instead an adviser, if serving on the board of a state-owned entity or institution which reports to the minister, would have to resign first before taking on the job.

“A special adviser serving on a statutory board or council (or similar bodies) for which an executive authority is individually or collectively accountable would be inappropriate since it could give rise to a direct or indirect conflict of interest or advice which could be biased or perceived to be biased.

“Therefore, a special adviser serving on such a board or council must terminate his or her appointment with effect from the date of appointment as a special adviser,” said Mchunu.

Political Bureau

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