Trade, Industry and Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel has admitted that one of the 10 suspended officials in his office had been on full pay for 729 days. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - The government has been urged to speedily conclude disciplinary action against a senior Trade and Industry Department official who has been suspended on full pay for more than two years.

This comes after Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel admitted in his written parliamentary reply to the DA’s questions by Mat Cuthbert that one of the 10 suspended officials in his office had been on full pay for 729 days - and continued to be paid. Two other officials had been on paid suspension for 325 days and 235 days. Patel submitted his parliamentary reply in August, and the officials remain on suspension to date.

“Clearly, it is necessary to review the system relating to disciplinary matters to enable a fair and expeditious process of completing such cases, as lengthy periods of suspension of staff on full pay is not in the interest of the public nor of the employees concerned.” he said.

Cuthbert, who welcomed the response, said: “Out of the 10 senior staff (on suspension) there are two chief directors, one director, five deputy directors, one assistant director and one trade and investment advisor. All 10 of them faces charges ranging from the alleged fraud, gross negligence and dishonesty.”

Of most concern was that three of the officials had been on suspension for more than 200 days.

“This includes a chief director, who has been suspended for 729 days on charges on charges of disgraceful and unprofessional conduct.

“However, it is unacceptable that a senior staff member who earns in excess of R1 million per annum is sitting at home while our economy crumbles beneath our feet.”