The government does not have a plan to retrench public servants en masse, as reported in the media, says Public Service and Administration Minister Ayanda Dlodlo.
“While it is important for us to embark on the reconfiguration exercise as government, we cannot do this in a clumsy way that will negatively affect the livelihoods of people. In this regard, public servants must rest assured that no such plans exist in government,” said the Minister on Friday evening.
She took exception to reports that claim government plans to lay off 30 000 public servants over the next three years.
“I take a dim view of this type of reporting, where none of the affected departments in this story were consulted to verify what the Mail and Guardian report as coming from ‘sources’,” she said.
Dlodlo said neither the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA), the Presidency nor National Treasury were consulted to verify a story that has the potential to cause panic and instability in the public service.
“The numbers being bandied about by the Mail and Guardian and other news sources who latched on to the false claims in the story have no substance whatsoever because, from the point of view of government, the macro-organization of the State will be undertaken meticulously and not in a dramatic wholesale retrenchment of State employees,” said the Minister.
Dlodlo said if State employees were to be affected by the extent that the media houses allege, the decision would have to be taken to the affected Public Service Collective Bargaining Chamber for discussion.
She stressed that the report is a complete misrepresentation of the government programme in relation to the macro organisation of the State and the initiatives proposed to manage the public sector wage bill.
“The figures quoted in this report are creating a state of panic in the public service and are utterly misleading to members of the public in general. It is true that as part of a bigger plan to reorganise government, an employer-initiated severance package and early retirement without penalties, among other measures, are being considered but the government is yet to engage labour unions on the matter,” the Minister said.
Plans to restructure government
Dlodlo said President Cyril Ramaphosa’s call to restructure government in order to enhance service delivery and make the public administration more effective and efficient by removing superfluous functions and structures does not include figures as quoted in the media.
“Of course the plans to reconfigure government could result in a reduced public administration and executive, and a clearly defined role of the national administration within the national government, but this process will be undertaken meticulously and not in a dramatic wholesale retrenchment of State employees,” said Dlodlo.
The Minister explained that the whole exercise includes the important work of the Presidential Review Commission, whose task is to review and restructure State-owned entities to make them more efficient and impactful in the economy.
Tightening public sector wage bill
With regard to the initiatives aimed at tighter management of the public sector wage bill, the Minister restated her commitment to lead a government-wide process of initiatives to mitigate its impact on the economy and society in general.
Measures to tighten the wage bill include:
- The development of a comprehensive remuneration strategy that covers the three spheres of government, including public entities in the medium term.
- Extensive work to look at the organisational design regime and organisational structures of departments, which will result in a directive that will seek to limit the appointment of personnel added to the establishment without affecting the operations of the department.
- Ensuring strict adherence to the guidelines of the Ministerial handbook in respect of the appointments of support staff in Ministries.
- Strict management of overtime, performance bonuses, leave management, implementation of the Occupation Specific Dispensation and separation management.
- The introduction of an Organisational Functionality Assessment Framework that will effectively measure performance, functionality and outcomes, rather than compliance only.
- Extensive work to finalize the Government Employees Home Owners Scheme to ensure affordable housing for all public servants.
- Introducing a uniform Job Grading System to ensure compensable and comparable worth of all jobs in the public sector.
- Introduce a larger suite of compulsory training programmes to ensure government employees are trained in Evidence-Based Planning, Project Management, Modelling and other disciplines so as to strengthen outcomes and results.
According to the Minister, these initiatives will ensure that personnel expenditure remains within the budget ceiling of the medium-term expenditure framework (MTEF) and employees are given the necessary tools and training to effect the desired changes to the system.