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Suspensions in the public service are out of control

Kobus Marais, Shadow Minister of Public Service and Administration
19 March 2012

Disciplinary cases involving precautionary suspensions in the public service have taken on average 284 days more than the prescribed 60 days to conclude.

A reply to a Democratic Alliance (DA) parliamentary question revealed that the average period to finalise disciplinary cases involving precautionary suspensions was 243 days for national departments and 444 days for provinces. The Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) Resolution 1 of 2003 prescribes a 60-day limit for precautionary suspensions.

In 2011, replies to DA parliamentary questions revealed that R93.6 million had been paid to 365 senior management officials in national departments who were suspended with pay since April 2009.  A November 2011 report by the Public Service Commission indicated that eight provincial departments spent R15.5 million on precautionary suspensions for the financial years 2008/2009 and 2009/2010.

It is thus clear that prolonged suspensions are a massive drain on the fiscus.

As it stands, there are 336 disciplinary cases pending. The Minister’s reply blames delays in finalising these cases on, among others, the unavailability of representatives and chairpersons, delays with the pronouncement of outcomes and logistical arrangements for witnesses.

These do not appear to be insurmountable obstacles.

The Minister of Public Service and Administration, Roy Padayachie, must explain to Parliament why his Department is failing to address this issue. I will be writing to the chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration to request feedback from Minister Padayachie to the committee.

We cannot have a situation where PSCBC resolutions are routinely ignored. Our public service simply cannot afford it and South Africans will continue to lose out on effective service delivery if public money is monopolised to pay suspended officials.