Minister Senzo Mchunu
Minister Senzo Mchunu

It's Ramaphosa's job to fire HODs and DDGs, Mchunu warns ministers

By Loyiso Sidimba Time of article published Mar 14, 2020

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Johannesburg - Public Service and Administration Minister Senzo Mchunu has warned his Cabinet colleagues not to fire their heads of department and deputy directors-general as this was President Cyril Ramaphosa’s job.

On March 3, Mchunu wrote to all executive authorities including ministers of different departments and other government components informing them of the revised protocol on policies and procedures on the employment of heads of department and deputy directors-general nationally.

“Executive authorities are urged to ensure that, subject to Sections 2 (2B) and 32 (2) (b) (i) [of the Public Service Act], all matters pertaining to the employment and career incidents of heads of department and deputy directors-general including suspension and instituting of discipline must, in the absence of delegation, be referred to the president,” states Mchunu’s letter.

The Act sets the conditions of service and other employment practices of heads of department to only apply to those appointed in terms of the Constitution and are not provided for in any other law governing their employment or contract.

Section 32 (2) (b) (i) relates to senior government officials appointed to act as heads of department by the relevant executive authorities.

The protocol is meant to help executive authorities appoint high quality candidates and employment practices are based on ability, objectivity and fairness.

“Executive authorities often do not have time to study the Public Service Act and the Public Service Regulations in detail. This provides the relevant information in a concise format and in simple language,” reads part of the protocol.

According to Mchunu, the executive protocol was reviewed following several adverse court judgments against ministers who fired their directors-general and after receiving legal opinion from the office of the chief state law adviser.

In 2018, Mchunu’s predecessor, Ayanda Dlodlo, also issued a similar warning to ministers, saying only Ramaphosa can suspend or discipline directors-general unless he delegated these powers. At the time, Dlodlo referred to former Home Affairs director-general Mkuseli Apleni and his rural development and land reform counterpart Mike Mlengana.

She said their cases correctly interpreted the Public Service Act.

The North Gauteng High Court found that then Home Affairs minister Hlengiwe Mkhize lacked the authority to suspend Apleni while Mlengana was also exonerated by the same division following his suspension by former Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries minister Senzeni Zokwana.

The Public Service Commission (PSC) has previously warned that misalignment between ministers’ expectations and departments’ strategic goals and objectives undermined the execution of administrative duties by heads of department.

According to the commission, this often led to tension between ministers and heads of department and created instability in state institutions.

Last month the PSC referred its director-general, Dr Dovhani Mamphiswana, to Ramaphosa to conduct an independent inquiry after he was accused of nepotism.

Political Bureau

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