Over 150 000 vacancies in public service crippling service delivery

Issued by Dr Mimmy Gondwe MP – Deputy Shadow Minister of Public Service and Administration
18 Apr 2023 in News

With the continued deterioration of public confidence in government’s ability to deliver quality and effective services, it is perturbing that government departments are battling to fill vacant posts, especially vacant funded posts.

According to data provided by the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA), in a written reply to a DA Parliamentary question on the number of vacant funded posts in the public service and the reasons for such funded posts being vacant, as at 31 December 2022, there were 166 365 vacant funded posts in the public service. Over 75% of these vacant funded posts, namely 128 214 are to be found in provincial departments.

Further according to the written reply by the DPSA, the province with the highest number of vacant funded posts is the Eastern Cape with 31 062 posts, followed by Gauteng with 23 687 posts and KwaZulu-Natal with 22 267 posts.

As regards the reasons for the funded posts being vacant, in the written reply the DPSA attributes the delays in the filling of vacant posts in the public service to, amongst other things, budget constraints or the reprioritisation of funds intended to fill vacant posts; internal and external administrative hurdles which delay the finalisation of appointments; and competition from the private sector especially with respect to the appointment of registered Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD) professionals and technicians.

A high vacancy rate, in the public service, runs contrary to any purported attempts to professionalise the service because part and parcel of professionalising the public service is a requirement that government departments keep their vacancy rate as low as possible.

What is also worrying is that in terms of Regulation 65 (7) of the Public Service Regulations of 2016 a vacant funded post has to be advertised within 6 months of it becoming vacant and also has to be filled within 12 months of it becoming vacant. As such, the continued delays in filling some of these vacant funded posts by government departments, in particular provincial departments, may well be in direct violation of the Regulations.

The DA has, accordingly, submitted follow up written questions to the Minister of Public Service and Administration in an effort to ascertain the length of time that these posts have been vacant; in which national and provincial departments these vacant funded posts are to be found and to also determine the nature of the positions that the vacant funded posts relate to.