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Commission talks tough on unqualified top state officials

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The Public Service Commission wants the government to take action against those responsible for hiring senior functionaries who do not meet requirements.

The government has been told by the Public Service Commission to take action against departments appointing senior officials without the necessary qualifications. File picture: Pexels

AN INQUIRY by the Public Service Commission (PSC) found that about 180 senior government officials do not meet the national qualifications framework (NQF) requirements for the posts they occupy.

The PSC report on the qualifications of senior managers in the public service was initially published in April but updated last month, with all government departments required to make inputs and submissions.

According to the report, 96% of the 3,966 senior management service (SMS) members from the 37 national departments that were required to respond to the PSC’s inquiry are qualified for the positions they occupy.

However, only 11 of 37 departments said 100% of their SMS members are qualified for their posts.

There were only 176 SMS members (4% of the 3,966) who did not meet the NQF requirements for the posts they occupied, and of these 114 (2.9%) were appointed before the introduction of the 2015 directive on minimum entry requirements, while the remaining 50 (1.26%) were appointed after directive introduction and information relating to appointment dates was not provided for 12 (0.30%).

SMS members refer to officials occupying the positions of director, chief director, deputy director-general or equivalent and director-general/ head of department.

In provincial government departments, the PSC found that in the Free State 89% of 314 SMS members from 12 departments met the minimum qualifications requirements for their posts but only three departments disclosed 100% of their senior officials being suitably qualified and only five departments verified the qualifications of all SMS members.

The Northern Cape also had 89% of 243 SMS members qualified for the posts they were appointed in across 11 departments, of which three managed to verify qualifications of all senior officials and only two departments had 100% compliance.

In the North West, 91% of 348 SMS members in 12 departments qualified for the posts they occupied and only three departments reported 100% compliance while five verified qualifications for all top officials.

The Western Cape’s 13 departments had 94% of 379 SMS members who members met the minimum qualification requirements for their positions but only one department verified qualifications for all senior officials and three reported that 100% were qualified for their respective posts.

The Eastern Cape had verified qualifications of 93% of 612 SMS members who qualified for the posts they filled. A total of seven departments reported compliance with the qualification requirements by 100% while only four had verified all SMS members’ qualifications at the time of reporting.

Both Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal reported that 95% of 666 senior officials and 95% of 590 SMS members were suitably qualified, respectively.

In Limpopo, 97% of 435 SMS members from 11 departments met the minimum requirements for their respective posts, with only four departments reporting that 100% of their senior officials are qualified for the posts they occupy.

The PSC recommended that the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) must compel government departments to comply with the guide for members of the executive (previously referred to as the ministerial handbook) and must take action against departments that deviate from the guide.

The commission also wants the DPSA to regulate the capturing of all qualifications information on Persal (personnel and salary administration system) and this should be done within 12 months from the issuing of its report.

”The DPSA must direct all departments with SMS members who still do not meet the minimum qualifications requirements to submit plans on how the gaps will be addressed with clear time frames to enable proper monitoring of those plans,” the PSC stated.

In addition, government departments have been told to complete the verification of qualifications before appointing potential employees without exonerating employees from misrepresenting their qualifications.

”Accounting officers (directors-general/ heads of department) must take responsibility for preventing non-compliant appointments and implementing consequence management measures in instances where the appointment of SMS members was effected without complying with the relevant prescripts,” the commission proposed.

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