Johannesburg – The South African government is spending at least R130 million on the salaries of 305 suspended public servants, among them 57 senior government officials.
This has been revealed in a parliamentary reply from DA MP Mimmy Gondwe, who posed the written question to Public Service and Administration Minister Thulas Nxesi at the end of September.
Nxesi’s reply showed that R90m in salaries for suspended public officials was spent across the nine provinces, with KwaZulu-Natal having the biggest bill at R33.5m, for 75 suspended public servants.
Added to the R90m spent on over 226 public servants in various departments in the public sector, Nxesi said R40.2m was being spent on 79 suspended public servants at national departments.
One of the officials who has cost taxpayers the most in wages during their suspension, was a public servant from Nxesi’s own Public Service Department.
This Level 16 official has cost the taxpayer a whopping R4.95m in wages while suspended.
The figure suggests this official has been suspended for at least four years.
South African labour law dictates that suspended employees have to be paid in full.
Speaking to IOL on Wednesday, the DA’s Gondwe said the reply was proof that there was a discipline management crisis in the public sector.
“This comes at a massive cost to the taxpayer because this is money that we could be using to provide services, it is an extremely concerning situation,” she said.
Gondwe said there had to be systems in place to ensure that public officials who were tasked with handling disciplinary matters concluded them instead of having scores of employees suspended without consequence.
She said government had to develop punitive measures that would penalise officials for not concluding disciplinary cases.
“Action is required, things need to change because this is coming at a massive cost to the taxpayer and we are not sure if these officials will ever be disciplined,” she said.
Gondwe said it was possible that officials were scared to act due to the issue of cadre deployment.
“Government needs to come up with a strategy that can help departments finalise disciplinary cases with speed. There isn’t even a move to say how do we handle this discipline management.
“There are no repercussions for officials who do not conclude the discipline issues, maybe this whole issue speaks to the problem of cadre deployment that we have in this country,” she said.
Meanwhile, Gondwe said talk of extending directors-general office terms for 10 years – although intended for stability – would cost the taxpayer even more money as the government had demonstrated it battled to get bad apples off its books.
She called for stringent discipline management systems in the public service.
KZN: R33.5m – 75 suspended
Northern Cape: R24.7m – 28 suspended
North West: R12.5m – 18 suspended
Gauteng: R7.59m – 23 suspended
Free State: R6.28m –18 suspended
Mpumalanga: R2.8m – 26 suspended
Western Cape: R1.9m – 28 suspended
Eastern Cape: R1.2m – 1 suspended
Limpopo: amount not disclosed – 9 suspended
Some of the big pay personnel include one Public Works Department official, who is graded at Level 16 and has to date, cost the taxpayer a whopping R3.95m in wages while suspended.
At the Office of the Chief Justice, one official has cost taxpayers R2.98m, and four employees all graded on Level 14 at the Military Veterans Department, have cost the taxpayer over R3.77m in total.
Other costly suspensions include two Level 14 public servants in the Department of Co-operative Governance, who have to date raked in up to R2.3m each in wages, as well as a Level 13 employee in the same department, who has cost the taxpayer R1.9m.
In the Department of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, 12 suspended employees have cost the taxpayer at least R2.5m to date.
In the Justice and Correctional Services Department, two employees with unspecified gradings, have cost the taxpayer R1.7m and R2.6m respectively.
At Home Affairs, three employees – two on Level 13 and one on Level 14 – have cost the taxpayer R654 000, R859 000 and R956 000 respectively.
* The department said the figures were correct as of the end of June this year