The total number of civil service employees alleged to have conducted business with the state had drastically fallen to 118 as at June 2021, Public Service and Administration Minister Ayanda Dlodlo said.
Public Service and Administration Minister Ayanda Dlodlo has ascribed the reduction in the number of civil servants doing business with the state to the effectiveness of interventions that the public service has introduced to grapple with the issue.
The total number of civil service employees alleged to have conducted business with the state had drastically fallen to 118 as at June 2021, Dlodlo said in a written response to parliamentary questions from Inkatha Freedom Party legislator Russel Cebekhulu.
These included 38 employees from national departments and 80 from provincial ones, she said.
Civil servants are prohibited from conducting business with the state.
Dlodlo’s department draws reports of employees who have conducted business with the state from the National Treasury’s central supplier database on a monthly basis and then alerts their departments to take appropriate steps as well as provide progress reports on action taken.
Dlodlo said the National Treasury found 1 068 employees alleged to have conducted business with the state at the end of March 2019, consisting of 270 employees from national departments and 798 from provincial departments.
In April 2020, the number stood at 1 539, out of which 1 111 were employees from provincial departments and 428 from those at the national level.
The minister said her department was working closely with the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to assist with investigations and the prosecution of cases of employees criminally charged with conducting business with the state.
“SAPS is currently investigating 17 employees who were alleged to be conducting business with the state and three of these cases have already been referred to the NPA for prosecution,” Dlodlo said. “One of these cases was enrolled in court.”
Dlodlo said her department was following up on a quarterly basis with departments to verify any disciplinary action taken against implicated employees.
Meanwhile, various measures have been put in place to deal with employees sitting at home with full pay.
Independent Media reported in March that former minister Senzo Mchunu had told DA MP Mimmy Gondwe in a written reply to parliamentary questions that national and provincial departments were paying R4.5 billion to public service employees facing disciplinary processes between 2019 and 2021.
Dlodlo said as part of its monitoring and advisory mandate, the Public Service Commission held a meeting with her department in May 2021 to deliberate on the issue of disciplinary management and prolonged suspensions.
The department indicated that it had procured a service provider to help develop a strategy on how to deal with the backlog of disciplinary cases, she said.
The minister said the commission and the department were exploring various options, including the reinstatement of employees whose cases have exceeded the 90 day period, where the misconduct in question is not of a serious nature.
There was also the consideration of reassigning employees whose cases have exceeded 90 days and are not of a serious nature to other units within departments or the public service.
“The establishment of a pool of capacity (i.e. Labour Relations Officers) within the public service to deal with backlog cases within the prescribed period; and the appointment of contract workers/service providers who have the required expertise to deal with some of the cases within the prescribed period,” Dlodlo said.
The commission was awaiting further engagements with her department on the development of the strategy and continued to urge departments to ensure that disciplinary matters were concluded timeously in the interest of sound labour relations and service delivery, the minister added.