Public Service Commissioner Michael Seloane makes a point during his press briefing on the state of the public service in South Africa. Picture: ANA

Pretoria - Despite the high unemployment rate in South Africa, the Public Service Commission (PSC) on Tuesday said it was dismayed by the high vacancy rate in some government departments and entities – positions that have not been filled over a period of time.

“We are indeed concerned because of the high vacancy rate. Where there is a high vacancy rate, for example in the Eastern Cape, we would want those positions to be filled as soon as possible. That is the intervention that the PSC is making with the provincial government of the Eastern Cape to ensure that the vacancies are filled,” Public Service Commissioner Michael Seloane said as he addressed journalists in Pretoria.

He said in areas where government institutions operate with inadequate staff, complaints of poor service delivery are inevitable from communities.

“We have just conducted and finalised a study in Gauteng, which says when people [public servants] are aggrieved, they are prone to take more leave. When they take more leave that means performance of their departments is going to be affected or the people that remain in the department are taking more work. Because they are taking more work, it means they are overworked and they are also prone to be coming up with grievances again,” said Seloane.

“That is something we need to address as a matter of urgency. It’s our serious concern as the Public Service Commission. The intervention we are making with provincial and national government departments is to try and reduce this [vacancy rate] as far as possible – to less than five percent. There is unemployment, yet there is also high vacancy rate … it doesn’t correlate. We need to make sure that where there is a vacancy, it must be filled.”

Titled the Pulse of the Public Service, the third quarter bulletin released on Tuesday covers the period 1 October to 31 December 2017, encompassing matters of the state of human resources, overall number of grievances handled by the PSC during the mentioned period, complaints lodged with the PSC, management of the financial disclosure framework, and Constitutional Court rulings affecting the public service.

“When you look at the state of HR [human resources] in the public service at national and provincial level, the public will note that for the period 1 October 2017 to 31 December 2017 the public service had 1 305 458 posts, of which 1 156 683 were filled and 148 775 (11.4 percent) are vacant.  During the last quarter (1 July 2017 - 30 September 2017), the public service had 1 307 552 of which 1 172 633 were filled and 134 919 (10.3 percent) were vacant,” said Seloane.

“The vacancy rate therefore has increased by 1.1 percent from the previous quarter. During the period 1 October 2017 to 31 December 2017, the vacancy rate at national level was 7.6 percent and the province with the highest vacancy rate was the Eastern Cape with 23.4 percent.”

African News Agency/ANA