Senzo Mchunu, the minister of Public Service and Administration Picture: Sibonelo Ngcobo/African News Agency (ANA)
Senzo Mchunu, the minister of Public Service and Administration Picture: Sibonelo Ngcobo/African News Agency (ANA)

Spat between Mchunu, DA over ’R11bn wasted on salaries of public servants’ hots up

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Aug 12, 2020

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Cape Town – The DA is ’’deeply alarmed’’ that Minister for Public Service and Administration Senzo Mchunu continues to defend the around R11 billion in taxpayer money spent on salaries for 84 000 state officials ’’to do next to nothing during the lockdown’’.

In a statement yesterday, Mchunu basically accused the DA of not knowing what they are talking about and “indulging in a gimmick”.

’’Public servants also include the judiciary as well as members of the national executive and parliament who have also continued to receive their salaries in full,“ he said.

’’Parliament had gone into a three-week recess following the declaration of the national state of disaster and were fully paid, including MP (Leon) Schreiber (DA). The DA is making all these claims with a mouth full of salaries…

'’Some measures that government could afford were undertaken to assist the private sector through various economic relief initiatives, UIF claims by workers whose jobs have been affected by Covid-19 are a phenomenon throughout the globe and not peculiar to South Africa.

’’The reality we have to face is that public servants both elected and appointed, are privileged to enjoy their salaries when other workers have lost their livelihoods, it is not a political gimmick that MP Schreiber indulges in…

’’What constitutes a national scandal is that Dr Schreiber does not understand anything outside of the DA. Government has sought to balance the need to save lives, to save livelihoods and will continue to do so in a responsible manner.’’

The DA said in a statement on Wednesday it was ’’disgusted’’ by Mchunu’s comments, saying he ’’responded with a classless and rambling statement defending government wastage’’.

’’Under relentless pressure from the DA, Mchunu’s latest statement sought to deflect legitimate questions about the government’s fiscal irresponsibility by using obfuscation and personal invective.

’’In seeking to deny the facts exposed by the DA, Mchunu conveniently ignores that it was his very own reply to a parliamentary question which stated that ’during the national lockdown all public servants will continue to receive their full salaries’.

’’It was also Mchunu himself who provided figures showing that over 84 000 officials continued to be paid from taxpayer funds even though they – in Mchunu’s own words – ’had their workloads reduced significantly’.

’’Unable to dispute the facts that he personally put on the table, Mchunu desperately turned to childish insults wholly unbecoming of a member of Cabinet.

’’First he bizarrely accused the DA of ’making all these claims with a mouth full of salaries’. Then he attacked a member of Parliament for supposedly “not (understanding) anything outside of the DA.

’’This also follows after Mchunu was recently forced in Parliament to withdraw his disrespectful statement that a fellow MP ’is a liar’…

’’The DA calls on President Cyril Ramaphosa to instruct Mchunu to issue a public apology for language so utterly unbecoming of a cabinet minister.

’’More importantly, the DA is deeply alarmed that Mchunu continues to defend the estimated R11 billion in taxpayer money spent on salaries for 84 000 state officials to do next to nothing during the lockdown, while at least three million private sector workers lost all they had.

’’Under their destructive lockdown, the ANC government forced private sector workers to give up their salaries and instead rely on what Mchunu meekly calls ’some measures that government could afford’ – including the failing TERS system.

’’If the government was confident that TERS payments could sustain South Africans during the crisis, why did it not mandate its own officials who were not working to also depend on TERS to survive?

’’The DA reiterates our view that it is a national scandal that the ANC gladly sacrificed over 3 million private sector livelihoods while spending R11 billion to protect the salaries of cadres and officials who did next to no work during the lockdown.

’’When Minister Mchunu is done spitting invective at the DA, perhaps he could answer a simple question: would the ANC and its president have so gleefully implemented a brutal and devastating lockdown on our already struggling economy if its own politicians, officials and cadres also felt the financial pain currently being experienced by millions of citizens in the private sector?’’

IOL

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