File picture: Ayanda Ndamane African News Agency (ANA)
File picture: Ayanda Ndamane African News Agency (ANA)

Ditch old staff to avoid bloated government, ministers and MECs warned

By Baldwin Ndaba Time of article published Mar 20, 2019

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Johannesburg - New ministers in government and MECs in provincial legislatures have been warned not to appoint the political staff of their predecessors after the May 8 national elections, to avoid bloating the state. 

The Public Service Commission (PSC) on Tuesday also warned the government to appoint highly skilled and moral individuals in senior positions to avoid state capture and corruption.  The commission released its report on the assessment of appointments of ministerial staff in the national and provincial government on Tuesday. 

PSC commissioners Mike Selloane, Moira Marais-Martin and Mpilo Sithole who authored the report, were unanimous in their view that it was unacceptable that South Africa should be run through commissions of inquiry. 

“It is unacceptable. We need highly skilled people with specialisation in their fields who can fight corruption and graft. They must have management skills, monitoring evaluation and to oversee the moral integrity of the public service. 

“Never again will our country be run by commissions of inquiry,” Sithole vowed. 

He said future commissions should only be appointed to probe certain transgressions but not those which threatened state security and had forced President Cyril Ramaphosa to act on them. 

“Besides the political will, there must be public service will to fight corruption,” Sithole said. 

The PSC said it would be providing politicians and public servants with a guide of how to manage the government and different institutions. It also revealed that irregular appointments were common after every election especially at executive levels in government. 

Marais-Martin said that new ministers and MECs had in the past appointed their predecessors’ political staff “arbitrarily and outside the legal framework”. She said the report was aimed at encouraging executive authorities to stick to the legal framework which obliges them to leave with their political staff after their term of office expires or terminated. 

According to the Ministerial Handbook, premiers and ministers are allowed to have 10 private office staff members while deputy ministers and MECs have a staff complement of six. 

“The study found that the appointment of staff on special contracts is often not linked to the term of office of the relevant executive authority as prescribed in the regulations,” read the report. 

Marais-Martin said MECs and ministers often found themselves with a bloated staff in their new offices which exceeded the departmental wage bill.

Political Bureau

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