Public Protector Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane in the Constitutional Court with Oupa Segalwe, spokesperson for her office. File picture: Dimpho Maja/African News Agency (ANA)

Pretoria - The Public Servants Association (PSA) has expressed concern about reported investigations by the Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane into South African Revenue Service (Sars) human resources processes and the appointment of new Sars Commissioner Edward Kieswetter, while "her own office should be investigated for the fitness to hold office of its CEO Vussy Mahlangu and his security clearance status".

The union described Mkhwebane’s conduct as "hypocritical and a ploy to derail efforts" by Sars to restore its credibility and regain taxpayers’ confidence in executing its collection of revenue mandate.

"The PSA has full confidence in the current Sars management and discourages any form of harassment and abuse of power against SARS by the [office of the public protector] or any other institution for ulterior motives," the PSA said in a statement.

The PSA was further concerned that its shop stewards at the office of the public protector were being victimised and even suspended for performing their functions as union representatives.

"The PSA regards these actions as a means to prevent the union from speaking out against ongoing improprieties in the workplace, including unlawful surveillance of phone calls, laptops being taken without any repercussions or reasons for such acts," the PSA said.

The union had indicated that it would resist any form of "union bashing" by the office of the public protector. The PSA was still awaiting the investigation outcome that was requested from State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo on June 10 June regarding the State Security Agency being "misused" by the office of the public protector.

In addition, the PSA was opposing the amendment of policies by the office of the public protector without consultation, thus undermining the bargaining forum processes. The PSA demanded that all policies amended without consultation be withdrawn and be tabled at the forum to afford employees the opportunity to provide inputs.

The office, however, refused to withdraw the amendments, resulting in the PSA declaring a dispute that would in terms of the Labour Relations Act be referred to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration (CCMA). Should parties fail to reach an agreement at conciliation, employees may embark on protected strike action after notice had been served, the PSA said.

The PSA appealed to National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise to initiate an urgent investigation into the office of the public protector to assure South Africans of the integrity of this crucial constitutional institution in all areas of its operation, including its human resources.

African News Agency (ANA)