A Public Service Commission (PSC) investigation into Muthambi, an ANC national executive committee member, found she flouted the ministerial handbook during her tenure as minister by appointing more than 30 officials in her office.
The PSC warned that the substantial difference in the number of support staff of the five recent public service and administration ministers (from 23 to 35 posts) exceeded the 10 posts proposed by the ministerial handbook and all were required to render the same service.
It warned that the inconsistency in organisational structures across ministries gave the impression that some ministers were superior or more favoured than others.
The PSC found that 32 positions were filled, including three employees who were transferred to Muthambi’s office permanently.
Another 29 employees were appointed on contract for periods ranging from one to three years and some linked to her term of office.
In terms of the ministerial handbook, the private offices of ministers can have a staff complement of 10, including media liaison, appointments and/or secretarial support, secretary and/or reception, parliamentary support, registry and driver or messenger
DA MP Desiree van der Walt, who asked the PSC to probe the appointments, said she would ask current Public Service and Administration Minister Ayanda Dlodlo oral questions on possible actions against the outcomes of the investigation.
She said the official opposition would also write to Ramaphosa and Mbete demanding action as Muthambi was still a MP.
The commission recommended that the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) develop a policy framework to regulate the employment practices of those who provided support and served in ministers’ offices.
“A legislation-based compliance framework for ministries should be developed by the DPSA. The DPSA should review the organisational structures of ministries according to the size and responsibility of the ministry,” reads the report.
It made no finding on the incorrect awarding of salary levels and the consequent incorrect salary payment to one of the officials hired by Muthambi, stating that it was not in a position to recommend that the official should pay the money back as his contract had expired and he had since left the public service.
“With due regard to the fact that Ms Muthambi was removed from the portfolio, it is recommended that the department must ensure that thorough quality assurance is done to submissions in order to avoid mistakes of putting incorrect salary levels that end up misleading ministers when seeking approval,” noted the report.