Concern raised over suspended DGs receiving millions of rands in salaries

Dr Mimmy Gondwe

Dr Mimmy Gondwe

Published Mar 14, 2024


The lengthy suspensions of public servants have once again raised concern after it was revealed that R10 million was paid in salaries to suspended directors-general in different departments.

In response to questions from the DA’s Dr Mimmy Gondwe, the Presidency said the salaries were due and payable by virtue of South Africa’s labour laws.

She had inquired about the number of DGs suspended in the financial years 2020/21, 2021/22 and 2022/23 and who are receiving full salaries.

“The revelation proves the ruling party has a problem with discipline management. We’ve seen a similar problem in the public service where public servants are on suspension for indefinite periods. We have come across situations where public servants have been suspended with full pay for 10 years or more. I’m not even surprised that the Presidency is failing to resolve these issues within a reasonable time.”

Gondwe said the director-general for Public Works was on suspension with full pay from July 2020 to July 2022 – two years.

“In the 2022/23 financial year we had two directors-general on suspension with full pay.

“The DG for Defence and Military Veterans has been on suspension since March 2023 till now – a full year. Most of the reasons for the suspensions are allegations of misconduct.”

The DA believed cadre deployment was at the heart of the discipline management crisis at DG level, Gondwe said. “Cadre deployment has eroded accountability and respect for rules and regulations. It has had a detrimental impact on the public service and its ability to ensure our citizens get proper services. Cadre deployment is at the heart of leaving taxpayers to foot the bill for suspended directors-general.”

The Presidency in its parliamentary reply said that the salaries paid to the directors-general while on suspension are due and payable by virtue of the country’s labour laws.

“In the 2020/21 financial year, three (3) directors-general were placed on suspension with full pay:

a) Public Service Commission –August 2020 to December 2020.

b) Public Works and Infrastructure – July 2020 to July 2022.

c) International Relations and Co-operation – February-September 2021.”

The Presidency said in each case the reason for the suspension was probe into misconduct allegations.

“In the 2021/22 financial year, no director-general was placed on suspension. In the 2022/23 financial year, two directors-general were placed on suspension with full pay: Defence and Military Veterans: March 2023 to date.

Public Enterprises: June 2022 until May 2023. In both cases the suspension was due to investigation into misconduct claims. The total amount paid to the directors-general on suspension in the financial years 2020/21, 2021/22 and 2022/23 is R10 533 280.”

Professor Bheki Mngomezulu of the Political Science and International Relations department at the Nelson Mandela University said that those who suspended the directors-general are responsible for this situation.

“These matters should have a time frame and should not be costing taxpayers more than R10 million.”

Mngomezulu said the situation is unfair as the taxpayer is bearing the brunt of the situation.

“Taxpayers are not only footing the salary for an acting director-general but also paying the salary of suspended directors-general. The taxpayer is suffering in this situation.”

University of KwaZulu-Natal political analyst Zakhele Ndlovu labelled the situation “insane and deplorable”.

“Why should taxpayers fund this?

Accountability mechanisms are not working. Those suspended DGs should pay back the money should they end up losing their jobs. If the government is at fault then somebody should account and pay.”

Political Analyst Dr Lubna Nadvi from the University of KwaZulu-Natal said that it is unfortunate that suspended DGs and officials of government departments get paid in full while investigations are under way.

“Given the country's labour laws they cannot be dismissed until a legal process finds them guilty of the crime they are accused of.”

The Mercury

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