Public Service Act, Public Service and Administration director-general Yoliswa Makhasi issued a circular this week to remind ministers and premiers. Picture:Paballo Thekiso
Public Service Act, Public Service and Administration director-general Yoliswa Makhasi issued a circular this week to remind ministers and premiers. Picture:Paballo Thekiso

Ministers, premiers reminded of proper processes for hiring special advisers

By Loyiso Sidimba Time of article published Oct 12, 2021

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THE Department of Public Service and Administration has reminded Cabinet ministers and premiers about the proper process of appointing and paying special advisers.

Ministers and premiers are entitled to two full time special advisers but national and provincial Cabinets have the power to intervene to approve an additional two full time special advisers for ministers and premiers.

President Cyril Ramaphosa and his deputy David Mabuza may appoint as many special advisers as they see fit.

However, national and provincial Cabinets may reduce the number of special advisers that can be employed by ministers and premiers.

In a circular issued this week on the appointment and remuneration of special advisers to executive authorities (ministers and premiers) in terms of the Public Service Act, Public Service and Administration director-general Yoliswa Makhasi said the intention of issuing the document was not to repeat the provisions of the dispensation but to highlight several important points.

”It will be appreciated if every head of department can ensure their executive authorities and deputy ministers (where applicable) are made aware of the provisions of this circular and dispensation,” she stated in the document dated September 8.

MECs and the chairperson of the Public Service Commission were excluded from the provision to appoint special advisers by the Cabinet but those appointed by ministers and premiers can be utilised by deputy ministers and MECs for specific tasks after arrangements are made.

The appointment of special advisers is subject to obtaining security clearances and signing performance contracts.

Special advisers are also barred from conducting business with the government or being directors of a public or private company conducting business with the state, according to Makhasi.

In June, Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane found that Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula's special adviser Lawrence Venkile had been overpaid over a lengthy period. He has undertaken to repay the money.

An investigation found that Venkile and legal adviser Kaiser Khoza were irregularly paid salaries equivalent to those of deputy directors-general even though their appointments were not approved by then Public Service and Administration Minister Senzo Mchunu.

The Public Protector found that Venkile and Khoza were appointed at annual salaries ranging between R1.45 million and R1.71 million.

The National Department of Transport also assured Mkhwebane that it would recover all overpayments related to Khoza’s salary.

In terms of the dispensation, ministers and premiers are allowed to award higher packages to their special advisers but within the approved compensation levels and also based on the recruitment and retention of suitable persons but subject to the approval of Public Service and Administration Minister Ayanda Dlodlo.

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Political Bureau

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