‘We will close the borders’: Public Servants Association feels ‘provoked’ by DA proposals on directors general

The Public Servants Association has warned that it will not allow the Democratic Alliance’s proposals on directors generals in government to be implemented. File Picture: Soraya Crowie

The Public Servants Association has warned that it will not allow the Democratic Alliance’s proposals on directors generals in government to be implemented. File Picture: Soraya Crowie

Published Jun 27, 2024


The Public Servants Association says several directors general of government departments, who are its members, have expressed concern following the leaked Democratic Alliance letter of demands in the government of national unity (GNU).

The DA’s letter, seen by IOL, addressed to ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula states that the blue party insists on contracts of directors general in the departments where it will lead, be terminated and pave the way for DA-approved appointments.

“That directors general in departments reporting to Democratic Alliance ministers are selected by panels consisting of Democratic Alliance ministers, and submitted to the President for his approval, and that such approval cannot reasonably be withheld,” Democratic Alliance federal chair Helen Zille wrote in the letter.

Irked by the sentiments, the Public Servants Association said the DA is already provoking workers.

“As the PSA, we were very disturbed and we felt that it is an act of provocation to the PSA and labour in general to see that one of the proposals that the DA would want to put on the table in the government of national unity is to start saying the directors general in government departments’ contracts must be reviewed and some terminated,” national spokesperson of the Public Servants Association, Reuben Maleka spoke to broadcaster Newzroom Afrika.

“We feel that it is just a way of provoking labour. We are well aware that all employees, including DGs, are protected by the Labour Relations Act and various legislation. It is impossible for any political party to come in and start to say employees must start to apply for their own jobs. Public servants are not politicians and should not get involved in issues of politics.”

He said public servants, including directors general, are not concerned with politics.

The Public Servants Association said the DA wants to implement “cadre deployment” – a system which the political party heavily opposed and has previously taken the African National Congress to court.

National spokesperson of the Public Servants Association, Reuben Maleka. File Picture

“The reason why they want to remove the DGs is to deploy whoever they believe that will serve their own interests, and that is where they are going to miss it. Public service should not be about politics,” said Maleka.

He insisted that directors general are merely technocrats who implement the policies of the government of the day.

“We call upon the DA to refrain from attacking public servants. We know the attitude of saying public service is bloated, public servants are overpaid, and by now we have learnt that they are not talking about the public service but they are talking about the public sector. Maybe they are referring to municipal managers or at parastatals such as Prasa, but you cannot say public servants are overly paid,” said Maleka.

“Many public servants are not overly paid, including the directors general.

Members of the Public Servants Association in a previous protest in Pretoria. File Picture: Liza van Deventer

President Cyril Ramaphosa has not announced his Cabinet, a week after he was inaugurated at the Union Buildings on Wednesday last week. The Presidency has said Ramaphosa continues to engage different stakeholders, including the opposition parties which have joined the ANC in the government of national unity.

Maleka said public servants will definitely go on strike if pushed.

“Who is going to be the Minister of Public Service and Administration, because that is very critical. We would not want a situation where we are going to call a strike week after week, simply because somebody comes there will policies such as the ones DA is proposing,” he said.

“If we are going to have that kind of proposals. That is where you are going to see a non-working public service, a stalled public service. You will see the borders of this country being closed for days and days because we would not want an attitude where public servants are attacked.”

The Public Servants Association describes itself as the “largest, politically non-affiliated, fully-representative union in the public service, with a proud history of more than a century of service to its members”.

In its books, the PSA says it represents more than 245,000 public-sector employees.