Public Service and Administration Minister Senzo Mchunu. Picture: Bongani Shilubane/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Public Service and Administration Minister Senzo Mchunu. Picture: Bongani Shilubane/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Covid-19 prompts nearly 5 000 public servants to take early retirement

By Mayibongwe Maqhina Time of article published Apr 22, 2021

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Cape Town - Public Service and Administration Minister Senzo Mchunu has revealed that nearly 5000 public servants have taken early retirement as of last month since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in March last year.

Mchunu revealed this when he was responding in writing to parliamentary questions from DA MP Mimmy Gondwe.

Gondwe enquired about the number of public servants who took early retirement since the start of the lockdown to curb the spread of the virus in March 2020.

She wanted to be furnished with a breakdown at national and provincial level, as well as the breakdown of the relevant number in each government department.

Gondwe also asked the number of teachers and nurses who took early retirement during the same period.

In his written reply, Mchunu said only 2879 public servants at national level had taken early retirement since the start of the lockdown.

The SAPS led the pack with 2117 public servants, followed by Department of Basic Education and Department of Higher Education 110.

He also said the number of public servants who took early retirement during the same period at provincial level was 2 005.

KwaZulu-Natal had the highest number at 502, followed by Limpopo (360), Eastern Cape (322), Western Cape (200), Gauteng (207), Mpumalanga (139), Free State (135), North West (106) and Northern Cape (34).

Mchunu also said a total of 1488 teachers and nurses retired during the period in question, with KZN recording the highest numbers of teachers.

“The number of teachers who took early retirement during this period was 1 274. The number of nurses who took early retirement during this period was 214. The information indicated above was obtained from Personal and Salary System (Persal) as on 1 March 2021,” he said.

Mchunu’s responses showed that the provinces with highest number of teacher who took the offer of early retirement were KZN (368), Limpopo (283), Eastern Cape (215), Western Cape (119) and Free State (105).

The resignations during the pandemic happened as fewer than the expected as most of the public servants took up the offer for those who had turned 55, but not yet 60 years of age, during the financial years 2019 to 2021.

The initiative, introduced in 2019, was part of the National Treasury’s plan to cut the public service spending, with the hope that 30 000 public servants would take up the resignation offer.

The plan was that employees taking early retirement would be treated as if they were retiring normally.

However, the move attracted only 5 289 applications for early retirement, with only 2 964 applications approved in December 2020.

Public sector unions have been opposed to the culling of the public sector jobs and the government’s move to freeze salary increases.

They have taken their fight to the Constitutional Court after Labour Court ruled in favour of the government not to implement the salary increases.

This takes place as pushes for a three-year salary freeze during the wage negotiations under way at the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council.

The public service unions were demanding a 7.1% pay hike.

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Political Bureau

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