Minister for the Public Service and Administration Senzo Mchunu. Picture: Dimpho Maja/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Minister for the Public Service and Administration Senzo Mchunu. Picture: Dimpho Maja/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

R4.5bn. That’s how much YOU have paid 6 334 suspended public servants sitting at home

By Mayibongwe Maqhina Time of article published Mar 16, 2021

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Cape Town - The official opposition wants the Public Service Commission to urgently investigate delays in finalising the disciplinary cases involving 6334 civil servants on suspension - some of them from as far back as 2012.

This comes after Public Service and Administration Minister Senzo Mchunu revealed in his response to parliamentary questions that R4.5 billion was paid to civil servants while they were waiting for their disciplinary hearings to be concluded.

DA MP Mimmy Gondwe had asked the nature of the disciplinary offence that each employee allegedly committed and the turnaround time for the suspensions.

She also asked about measures that were put in place to ensure that a public servant suspended with pay in one department was unable to get employment in another department until their disciplinary cases were finalised.

In his written response, Mchunu said a total of 6344 civil servants were on suspension two months ago - 6092 were employed by national government departments and 292 were working for provincial departments.

Mchunu said the government had spent R2 418 531 668.20 in the 2019-20 financial year pending the finalisation of disciplinary hearings.

A total of R2 080 977 700.20 was spent as at January 2021, he said.

Gondwe said the Department of Public Service and Administration should consider placing a cap on the amount of time it took the government departments to resolve disciplinary cases of suspended public service employees.

“At most, it should not take longer than three calendar months to resolve a case of a suspended public service employee, as per the Public Service Act and its Regulations,” she said.

Mchunu’s response showed that some employees were on suspension for up to 21 months.

Of all 6334 suspended officials, 578 civil servants were alleged to have contravened acts; 287 had intimidated others; 197 had carried firearms or dangerous weapons at work; 392 had wrongfully used state property; 208 had blocked others from joining a trade union; 208 had slept on duty without approval and 185 had mismanaged finances.

Other offences included being absent from work without permission, damage of state property, failure to carry out instruction, falsifying documents, misuse of position to promote political party and running a money-lending scheme in state premises, among others.

Gondwe said taxpayers should not be expected to subsidise a flawed, and expensive, administrative system that added no value to service delivery.

She insisted that public servants were all bound by a code of conduct in the exercise of their professional responsibilities.

“As such any wilful violation of the act and its regulations should not become a financial burden on the taxpayer as is the case in this particular instance. This speaks to the flawed nature of government’s current system on suspension with full pay and benefits, which requires to be amended as a matter of urgency.”

Gondwe called for timely resolution of disciplinary cases in the public service and this should be included as a key performance area for director generals and heads of departments in all government departments to prevent long, drawn- out and protracted disciplinary processes that placed an undue and unjustified burden on the taxpayer.

“The DA also calls on the Public Service Commission to urgently launch an investigation into the delays in finalising the identified disciplinary cases by the implicated government departments,” Gondwe said.

Mchunu said the Z83 application for employment form was revised in January to address, among others, the issue of employees trying to escape disciplinary procedures.

“One question on the form requires the employee to indicate if he or she is facing disciplinary charges. After a person is employed and it is discovered that she/he lied on the application form, the person will be dismissed,” he said.

He also said the law still provided for employees to be disciplined for misconduct allegedly committed in their former department when they were appointed in a new department.

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Political Bureau

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