Civil Servants Pension Redress Movement Petition; State of readiness to conduct lifestyle audits in the public service; PSC financial misconduct report; with Deputy Minister
Public Service and Administration, Performance Monitoring and Evaluation
16 March 2022
Chairperson: Mr T James (ANC)
Civil Servants Pension Redress Movement Petition
The Portfolio Committee on Public Administration was briefed by the Department of Public Service and Administration and the Government Employees Pension Fund on the submission from the Speaker’s Officer concerning government employees who were discriminated against under apartheid to qualify for pension redress benefits. It was outlined that a legal opinion was sought which indicated that the parties of the collective agreement were duly authorised, and indicated that it had no reason to conclude that the agreement was not rational when considering the funding provisions. The state therefore was under no legal or constitutional obligation to amend the agreement to provide for either an extension of the scope or an extension of the timeframe.
The Department also briefed the Committee on the state readiness to conduct lifestyle audits in the public service. After performing awareness training, an October 2021 circular requesting departments to provide feedback on progress of lifestyle audits by 31 January 2022 was dispatched. Sixteen national departments and six of the nine provinces provided feedback. It was indicated that after the Public Administration Ethics, Integrity and Disciplinary Technical Assistance did follow-ups, 18 national departments and six of the nine provinces provided feedback. The provinces that did not provide feedback yet were Limpopo, Mpumalanga, and Free State. The Western Cape Health Department had already referred 743 non-senior management service members for investigations because of anomalies that need to be looked at mostly because of the non-disclosure of assets, vehicles, and companies.
The Public Service Commission also briefed the Committee on the financial misconduct for the 2020/21 financial year. It was reported that misappropriation was the highest category of misconduct, with 208 cases. The PSC recommended that departmental accounting officers should ensure effective and appropriate disciplinary action is instituted against employees, who, following investigations, are found to be liable for the financial misconduct. If they fail to do so, the accounting officers should also be disciplined. It was further recommended that the issue of non-payment of services within 30 working days was grievous misconduct, because failure to pay suppliers has dire consequences for the sustainability of Small Medium and Micro Enterprises.
The Chairperson welcomed Committee Members and guests to the meeting. He handed over to the Deputy Minister of Public Service and Administration, Dr Chana Pilane-Majake, to make her opening remarks.
The Deputy Minister introduced the submission received by the Office of the Speaker from the Civil Servants Pension Redress Movement (hereafter “the Movement”), requesting Parliament to assist current and former public servants who were discriminated against under apartheid in respect of the Pensions Redress Programme. She added that she was made aware that the submission was also presented to the Office of the Solicitor General for a legal opinion. She then introduced the Director General (DG) of the Department of Public Service and Administration, Ms Yoliswa Makhasi, and asked her to brief the Committee on the matter.
Briefing by the DPSA and Government Employee Pension Fund
Ms Makhasi thanked the Deputy Minister, Chairperson, and the Committee. She handed over Ms Nomsa Rilityane to present on the pensions and Dr Salomon Hoogenraad-Vermaak to update the Committee on the lifestyle audits.
Ms Rilityane, Director: Macro Benefits, DPSA, indicated that the presentation to the Committee was compiled in collaboration with the Government Pensions Administration Agency (GPAA) specifically in dealing with applications and their status. She also added that a legal opinion was sourced from the Office of the Chief State Law Advisor to determine whether the state as the employer was under any legal or constitutional obligation to accede to the demands of the movement. She outlined that the Movement was demanding the inclusion of certain categories of employees in the Pensions Redress Programme thus implicitly implying the reopening of the pension redress process. The categories of inclusion are (1) former employees who were discriminated against in terms of pensions but were no longer in the public service as at 2 September 1998, (2) employees who were eligible for the Pensions Redress Programme but missed the closing date, and (3) employees who were not aware of the Pensions Redress Programme, and therefore did not apply.
On a historical note, Ms Rilityane said that during the apartheid era, certain categories of Black, Coloured and Indian public servants were not allowed to contribute to the pensions fund and had to wait before becoming permanent members of said fund. Therefore, their full pensionable services were not recognised even though they had rendered their service. So, the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) embarked on the implementation of the process to provide redress to public servants who fall within the scope of the Council and those who suffered various types of discrimination related to their admission to the pension fund under apartheid. Hence in 1998, parties to the PSCBC agreed, through Resolution 7 of 1998, to recognise non-contributory service as a pensionable service with the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) for employees who were previously discriminated against based on race, disability, gender, and employment status. However, this same resolution placed a limit of 1% on the amount available for funding pension redress from the GEPF.
She said that in 2002, the parties also agreed to sign Resolution 12 of 2002 to include employees who participated in industrial strikes and were later reinstated in terms of the settlement of the strike reached by their respective departments and trade unions, former Non-statutory Forces (NSF) members and general assistants who were formerly employed as casual workers.
In light of Resolution 7 of 1998, R6 billion from the GEPF was put into a reserve account which accumulated interest and stood at R8.7 billion as at 30 June 2018.
The implementation of Resolution 12 of 2002 started for applicants on 29 November 2002 and closed on 31 July 2012 in terms of Resolution 3 of 2012, thus allowing the maximum opportunity for potential beneficiaries to apply. Ms Rilityane indicated that it was employees who were in service as of 2 September 1998 who were eligible for the Pensions Redress Programme, while persons who were not employed as of 2 September 1998 were ineligible.
She added that the PSCBC established Provincial and Departmental Task Teams to communicate the Pensions Redress Programme and implement the resolutions in every department. Together with GPAA and DPSA, the PSCBC conducted workshops throughout the country explaining the qualifying factors, including where and how applications should be submitted. The Provincial Task Teams comprised officials from Offices of the Premier who were responsible for collecting application forms and supporting documents from the various departments and pensioners. These applications were then collated and tallied by the National Task Team of the PSCBC and submitted to the GPAA.
In the implementation process, Ms Rilityane indicated that as of September 2013, 150 444 applications were received by the PSCBC and delivered to GPAA, which provided reports on the status of the verification process. The PSCBC resolved that an independent audit be conducted to verify that the process by GPAA was complete, fair, and accurate. On this, she said that there were delays because some applicants submitted more than one application form while others applied for more than one period using multiple application forms.
In 2017, she outlined that the PSCBC appointed independent actuaries to conclude the actuarial assessment and costing. The report from the actuaries, which was submitted to the PSCBC and accepted by Council, indicated that the total amount needed to fund the Pension Redress Programme was R12.7 billion. Therefore, to remain within the funding limitations, per Resolution 7 of 1998, a reduction factor was proposed to address the shortfall, as only R8.7 billion was available. She said that to address this issue, it was decided that Resolution 2 of 2018 be concluded to allow for the implementation of the Redress Programme based on a reduction factor of 68.4% which related to all qualifying applicants receiving 68.4 cents on the rand or 68.4% of the period recognised.
She added that GPAA started the payment of approved applicants in April 2019. Some of the challenges presented included that some qualifying applicants are deceased, and estate accounts had to be opened, while others had changed their addresses and bank accounts thus delaying payments, whereas others had tax affairs that were not in order, the long, drawn-out Post Office strike caused delays for yet other applicants to receive correspondence, and con-artists who sold the original forms from GEPF to desperate pensioners which were not accepted.
Ms Rilityane pointed out that the final costing for the Pension Redress Programme which formed the conclusion of PSCBC Resolution 2 of 2018 was concluded for 72 335 claimants which had 18 618 error cases and 53 717 approved cases. Of the approved cases, they were divided by the GPAA into four categories: (1) those who were still in service, (2) those who received a pension, (3) those who had exited the Fund with gratuities only, (4) and the estates of deceased claimants. As of 5 February 2022, a total of 54 207 claims were approved in the four different categories.
She highlighted the response from the Office of the Chief State Law Advisor regarding the petition from the Movement. Firstly, she pointed out that the Movement contended that the exclusion of former employees was unconstitutional in terms of Section 9 of the Constitution as it unfairly discriminated against previously disadvantaged government employees who suffered the same unfair discrimination.
She added that the Movement claimed that the people who were not in service as of 2 September 1998 also suffered the same unfair discrimination, since Section 9 of the Constitution provides that everyone is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and benefit of the law.
Ms Rilityane said that the legal opinion outlined that the principle of equality does not require everyone to be treated the same but simply that people in the same position be treated the same. Further, the opinion stated that it is an accepted principle that the state may differentiate between persons if there are legitimate reasons for such differentiation. The legal opinion thus concluded that if the Movement is focused on the collective agreement, then it should be clear that collective agreements are binding on the parties to the agreement and in this case, it includes the employees represented by their trade unions and the employer, but not former employees. She added that the legal opinion also indicated that the parties of the collective agreement were duly authorised with no reason to conclude that the agreement was not rational in considering the funding provisions. Thus the state is under no legal or constitutional obligation to amend the agreement to provide for either an extension of the scope or an extension of the timeframe.
The Chairperson thanked Ms Rilityane for the presentation and proceeded to the discussion.
Mr J McGluwa (DA) welcomed the presentation from the Department. On the processes, he wanted clarity on the petition which had already been dealt with by the relevant structures. Therefore, he wanted to know the reason this was presented to the Committee.
He added that the legal recommendations made were a bit harsh in terms of the timeframes and closing dates because it was already stated that, due to various challenges, it was difficult to get hold of potential beneficiaries. He further wanted to know if there has been anything done to get hold of the individuals who could not be found.
Mr McGluwa asked whether civil servants should go the Constitutional route and if the Department would be ready for that.
Ms C Motsepe (EFF) accepted the presentation from the Department and wanted clarity on the Pension Redress Programme. She indicated that in 1992, some state employees participated in strikes in the Transvaal Provincial Administration (TPA) and later reinstated but forfeited all their benefits. She, therefore, wanted to know where this category of employees falls in the Pension Redress Programme.
Ms M Kibi (ANC) also welcomed the presentation. She expressed her happiness that there was now a report after quite a long time which was understandable as the Department did not want to make any mistakes on these issues. She asked whether the end of March was a sufficient deadline to do everything.
She asked if the Department still had the records of the people who did not apply even those who were attempted to be reached.
Based on the legal advice, she wanted to know if the Department was not running the risk that people could legally challenge this process.
Ms M Ntuli (ANC) welcomed the presentation and indicated that it was good that the democratic government is committed to correcting the inequalities of the past.
On the exclusion criteria, she commented that with all things considered, whether a person was still in the system or not, if they were not paid, they should be. She recommended that the Department needed to relook all the people who were no longer in the system when the resolution was made as they were unfairly unpaid. She said she agrees with the Movement that these loopholes should be addressed.
She thanked the Department for the six-month extension for the submission of applications. She wanted to know if the families of the deceased would benefit from the Pensions Redress Programme.
Ms Ntuli further wanted clarity on whether the legal opinion received was sufficient to cover the Department from legal action.
On the eligible former employees who qualified, Mr Modise Letsatsi, Acting Deputy Director-General, said that there have been instances where after former employees submitted their forms, it was discovered that some of them changed addresses and could not be traced. Therefore, a tracing process ensued with some found and paid accordingly while others were not. He indicated that the Committee’s recommendations on the timeframe were noted.
For those who had died before their forms could be processed, the Pension Administration is assisting the families to receive those proceeds.
On the strikers, he indicated that all of them were covered by the Pensions Redress Programme.
On possible litigation, he indicated that, following the legal opinion, the Department was confident that they are on good ground in terms of possible litigation. He added that any party that does not agree with the PSCBC resolution must challenge the PSCBC as an institution because this is an agreement of the parties at the level of the Council. Therefore, in whatever litigation process, the PSCBC will have to be one of the respondents as this is the Council’s agreement.
Mr Joy Morar from the GPAA added that they had paid 93% of claimants, and the remainder of which the GPAA was not able to obtain certain information. However, GPAA was trying other methods including using third party data to obtain such information.
The Deputy Minister noted the caution on possible litigation. The matter would be reviewed to ascertain any loopholes. She added that they were looking into approaching this matter based on the principles of ubuntu.
Ms Makhasi indicated that she had been discussing with the Director-General of the Treasury to check if there is any appetite to reopen the process from a financial point of view. When she met the Director-General of Treasury last year on the matter, it was made clear that there was no prospect to reopen a discussion on the matter because of the financial position of the country. She indicated that this was not a solid position of the Department that the matter will not be reopened because of financial implications. But the Department had been consulting with various stakeholders including the Treasury.
Ms Rilityane noted that in the qualifying criteria, Saskia strikers who participated in strikes between 1990 and 1991, including employees who were dismissed for participating in strikes in the TPA between 1991 and 1993, were included in the Pensions Redress Programme.
DPSA on the State of Readiness to Conduct Lifestyle Audits in the Public Service
In her opening remarks, the Deputy Minister outlined that in the 2022 State of the Nation Address, President Ramaphosa reiterated that the government was making decisive steps to expose and punish corrupt activities. She added that the DPSA continues to make efforts to work towards this through initiatives aimed at professionalisation, modernisation, and optimisation of the public service. This is to build an ethical public service which includes the adoption of lifestyle audits as an anti-corruption risk management tool that is conducted every year for senior management service members and every second year for non-senior management service members.
Dr Salomon Hoogenraad-Vermaak, Chief Director: Public Administration Ethics, Integrity and Disciplinary Technical Assistance (TAU), outlined that the legal framework for lifestyle audits stems from Section 195 of the Constitution which requires all public servants to maintain and adhere to a high level of professional ethics with Regulation 22 of the Public Service Regulation of 2016 which provides for the head of the department to analyse ethics and corruption risks as part of the department’s system of risk management. This is the reason lifestyle audits are viewed as a risk management tool to detect corruption and unethical conduct.
He outlined that auditing lifestyles were a decentralised process with three steps which includes the (1) review, (2) investigation, and (3) audit. He added that if the case is too complex and cannot be resolved, the audit step is used. It is in this process that TAU is responsible to provide technical assistance in terms of the Public Administration Management Act 11 of 2014, including providing oversight of the process.
In October 2021, after training and awareness, a circular was dispatched requesting departments to provide feedback by 31 January 2022 on progress in implementing lifestyle audits. Sixteen national departments and six of the nine provinces provided feedback. He said that after TAU did follow-ups, 18 national departments and six of the nine provinces provided feedback. The provinces that did not provide feedback yet were Limpopo, Mpumalanga, and Free State.
He indicated that when TAU reviewed the information submitted, they found that most of the departments performed proper lifestyle reviews which are an important step in the lifestyle audit process as the next steps cannot be reached if the first step is not properly done. He added that the Western Cape has already progressed with some investigations to step two of the lifestyle audit process.
Dr Hoogenraad-Vermaak pointed out that the Western Cape Health Department had already referred 743 non-senior management service members for investigations. He indicated that this was not because of detected crimes per se, but rather anomalies that need to be looked at mostly because of the non-disclosure of assets, vehicles, and companies.
The Provincial Treasury of the Western Cape referred three senior management service members for investigation of which one was because of a possible conflict of interest while the two other cases concerned employees performing other remunerative work without permission.
He indicated that they found that, overall, the process had thus far had a positive impact on the management of conflicts of interest in the departments which not only stops corruption but also unethical behaviour while reinforcing ethical conduct.
Some of the identifiable challenges include that Ethics Officers, who are key role players for lifestyle audits, are designated and not appointed. This means that the task does not happen frequently. He outlined that they are mitigating that risk by procuring a training system that would be implemented later in the coming financial year.
Another challenge that was detected was the lack of knowledge among Ethics Officers to determine when an employee is living beyond their means. In response, TAU distributed a salary band of government employees to Ethics Officers.
Dr Hoogenraad-Vermaak said that, as a way forward, DPSA and TAU are looking into assisting in professionalising Ethics Officers which would include the consideration to appoint instead of designating them.
He further pointed out that they were considering supporting Ethics Officers through automating the e-Disclosure system to flag employees living beyond their means. This would also include using an electronic platform to upload training material that would supplement formal courses.
Discussion: DPSA on the State of Readiness to Conduct Lifestyle Audits in the Public Service
The Chairperson welcomed the presentation and commented that TAU had a proper plan which was admirable. He then allowed the Committee members to ask the questions.
Ms Ntuli welcomed the presentation, indicating that the issue of lifestyle audits had been around for a long time and should have had a proper plan by now. She said that there are still gaps because investigations should be concluded a while back. She asked what the DPSA envisages as their disciplinary measures to the departments and provinces which have not submitted their reports.
She applauded TAU for the steps taken to address the issue of appointing Ethics Officers and not designating them. She recommended that there should be a policy to ensure that Ethics Officers were not permanently posted but were rotational.
Ms T Mgweba (ANC) welcomed the presentation and asked for clarity on the implementation strategy step which mentioned rolling out certain responsibilities to municipalities. She asked how TAU and the DPSA were going to monitor this.
On the automated system to flag employees living beyond their means, Ms Mgweba asked the Department to explain how the system works.
She also asked for the timeline to speedily prevent unethical conduct and acts of corruption that were happening at different levels of the government.
Dr M Gondwe (DA) asked if the DPSA was responsible for ensuring the realisation of Regulation 22 to ensure that an ethics management strategy was developed.
She commented that Ethics Officers were only trained in May 2021 which was a month after the adoption of the guide to implement lifestyle audits. She said that the training should have happened before departments started implementing the lifestyle audits, hence these delays.
She wanted to find out how the Ethics Officers were selected and the reasons directors of internal audit units within individual departments could not take on this responsibility.
On the issue of the designation and appointment of Ethics Officers, she wanted to know what the incentive was for them to do this job well.
She asked if the Department had made follow-ups with the provinces that had not submitted their lifestyle audits and what the outcome of these follow-ups had been.
She also asked if the Department could come up with formal recommendations for some of the challenges concerning the implementation of lifestyle audits.
Ms Motsepe wanted to know if the DPSA had enough Ethics Officers to monitor lifestyles and conduct lifestyle audits.
She also asked if the lifestyle audits would include inheritance, or whether they would only consider finances and companies.
She wanted to know the consequences for the provinces which had not yet submitted their lifestyle audits.
Ms S Maneli (ANC) welcome the report and indicated that the number of departments that had submitted their lifestyle reports was concerning.
On the training of Ethics Officers, she wanted to know when such training would be completed.
On the investigations in the Western Cape, she wanted clarity on whether they were open-ended or whether there was a timeline attached to them and whether the Department could provide a progress report.
She agreed that Ethics Officers should indeed be professionalised.
Response: DPSA on the State of Readiness to Conduct Lifestyle Audits in the Public Service
The Chairperson expressed his delight in the Department’s progress on lifestyle audits and indicated that this would be a good tool to curb corruption. He then handed it over to the DPSA to respond.
On the issue of training, Dr Hoogenraad-Vermaak said that the training was scheduled around the time that the information becomes available on the system. He highlighted that training would not be a once-off but would be continuous.
On the departments that did not comply, he said that there had been some hesitancy on whether this was a legally binding process, hence the Lifestyle Audit Indaba was organised in March 2022 to brief provinces and departments of the importance of lifestyle audits.
For non-compliant departments and provinces, he indicated that the Department was within the regulation and had been mandated to draft non-compliance letters to the departments and provinces. He pointed out that this could be escalated with disciplinary steps against those who were non-compliant.
He said that this was in its premature phase but by working together and following up, they would be able to provide the Committee with a better picture of who was willing or unwilling to comply.
Dr Hoogenraad-Vermaak thanked the Committee for its encouragement because getting the DPSA ready for lifestyle audits had been complex since many concerns had been raised.
On monitoring the rollout to municipalities, he said that this would be under phase 4 which was in 2023/2024 and the Department would work closely with the South African Local Government Association and the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs to design a monitoring tool.
On the designation of Ethics Officers, he said that it meant that they were usually human resource or risk specialists. Depending on the department, they appoint such a person to look at the ethics management. He added however that most departments were moving toward having a full-time Ethics Officer. He indicated that the DPSA had asked the departments not to change Ethics Officers so that the work can be done.
Dr Hoogenraad-Vermaak confirmed that Regulation 22 was monitored which included performing a thorough ethics risk assessment. He indicated that through the Ethics Institute, the DPSA had also conducted a cultural ethics survey across the three spheres of government where the Department requested departmental employees to indicate the ethics risks in their specific areas.
On the incentives of Ethics Officers, he indicated that there were no incentives as most of this work was done because of pure patriotism to correct issues in the government. He said that they had Ethics Officer forums where Ethics Officers present their work while sharing their experiences and knowledge with other officers.
On whether there were enough Ethics Officers, he indicated that the Department had close to 400 officers for each department with most departments having more.
He added that lifestyle audits included inheritance under the Public Service Regulations Section 18.
On the investigations in the Western Cape, he pointed out that these investigations were not open-ended as the departments would provide regular feedback to the TAU to track if they were following up with the investigation.
Briefing: PSC on Overview Report on Financial Misconduct for 2020/21 in the Public Service
In his opening remarks, Dr Somadoda Fikeni, Commissioner of the Public Service Commission, said that the lifestyle audit was a good initiative to curb corruption. And as the lifestyle audit begins to take effect, the Public Service Commission (PSC) would be monitoring and assisting the Committee to ensure that the framework is adhered to.
Mr Matome Malatsi, Deputy Director-General: Integrity and Anticorruption, PSC, said that during the 2020/21 financial year, out of 159 national and provincial departments, 148 submitted their reports and 24 failed to submit their reports. He indicated that the PSC sends out reminders to national and provincial departments to submit their reports.
He added that 519 disciplinary proceedings on financial misconduct were completed for the 2020/21 financial year. Misappropriation was the highest misconduct with 208 cases. He also said that salary levels 2-8 constituted the majority of misconduct at 47%.
Mr Malatsi added that of the completed disciplinary proceedings, 298 (57%) employees were found guilty, and sanctions including dismissal, demotion, suspension without pay, and written warnings were issued. The total value involved in the misconduct was R945 million with national departments accounting 61% and provincial departments accounting 39%. He said that the higher proposition by the national departments was due to the Department of Higher Education, and which related to fraud and irregular expenditure amounting to R181 million. He said that a total of R167 million was recovered as of 31 March 2021 while R632 million may not be recovered.
He outlined that 319 of the disciplinary proceedings were not completed with 92 in national departments and 227 in provincial departments. In his presentation, he listed all the reasons for the non-completion of disciplinary proceedings.
On consequence management, he first outlined that the PSC had noted that the amounts on the information received from the departments always differ from the amounts disclosed by departments in the annual reports. Therefore, as an addition to monitoring and evaluation, the PSC sought to take all annual reports and analyse them to ascertain which amounts had been highlighted as falling under unauthorised, irregular, fruitless, and wasteful expenditure. The departments will be summoned to report who exactly was implicated in the misconduct, including the disciplinary processes followed.
He said that the annual reports of national and provincial departments for the 2019/2020 financial year reflect an amount of R1 billion in respect of unauthorised expenditure with national departments accounting for R149 million and provincial departments accounting for R857 million.
Mr Malatsi added that the annual reports of national and provincial departments for the 2019/2020 financial year reflect an amount of R104 billion in respect of irregular expenditure with national departments accounting for R12 billion and provincial departments accounting for R91 billion.
He said that according to the annual reports of national and provincial departments for the 2019/2020 financial year an amount of R2.7 billion in respect of fruitless and wasteful expenditure was reflected with R798 million relating to national and R270 million relating to provincial departments.
He said that the PSC recommended that accounting officers of departments should ensure effective and appropriate disciplinary action is instituted against employees, who, following investigations, are found to be liable for the financial misconduct. If they fail to do so, the accounting officers should also be disciplined.
Mr Malatsi said that the PSC also recommended that the issue of non-payment of services within 30 working days was grievous misconduct as failure to pay suppliers has dire consequences for the sustainability of SMMEs.
Discussion: Public Service Commission
The Chairperson thanked the PSC and asked if there was a public service that was “alive” to its responsibilities and which was responsive. He then handed over to the Committee to ask questions.
Ms Kibi welcomed and appreciated the presentation on financial misconduct. She expressed her concern about the money that could not be recovered.
She then asked if there was anything that could be done on the delay of cases.
On the departments whose reports were as yet still not submitted, she wanted to know the type of communication method that used to request accounting officers’ information about the financial misconduct and if there were reasons provided by these departments for their failure to comply with PSC requirements and what could be the consequences for this noncompliance.
On the type of misconduct, she wanted clarity on whether the PSC conducted a further fact-finding mission to understand the root causes of the financial misconduct among public servants.
She also asked if there was any uniformity in terms of sanctions given by various disciplinary committees across government departments and what could be done to categorise sanctions emanating from disciplinary committees to avoid arriving at different outcomes on similar offences.
On the fraud committed in the Department of Higher Education, she wanted to know when this was committed and if there was an official involved who was suspended with or without pay, and also the outcome of the case.
Ms Ntuli also welcomed the PSC presentation. She asked if the PSC has enforcement powers apart from making recommendations.
She also wanted to know what happens when the PSC discovers underreported cases and if the PSC follows up on these cases.
She expressed concern about the high number of senior employees who were implicated in these cases.
Dr Gondwe asked about the 24 departments that failed to submit reports and if there were reasons given for this failure, including the interventions put in place by the PSC.
She asked for clarity on the 35 completed cases involving financial misconduct. She also wanted to know the type of financial misconduct committed by most of the 35 cases concerned.
She expressed that she found it concerning that misappropriation accounted for the highest number of cases and she wanted clarity on the meaning of misappropriation.
She also expressed her concern that most of the sanctions were a final warning even where money was misappropriated. She said therefore that she would like to see more criminal sanctions on public servants who commit serious financial misconduct such as fraud.
On the total money involved in completed disciplinary proceedings, the higher amount by the national departments was because of fraud and irregular expenditure in the Department of Higher Education, of R181 million. Dr Gondwe asked for more information concerning how this was incurred including the money that was recovered.
On the disciplinary proceedings that were reported as incomplete, Ms Motsepe wanted to know if there were departments with a high number of pending disciplinary cases with Ethics Officers and if there was any consequence management for failure to discipline officials found to have committed financial misconduct within 90 days. And who should be responsible for the failure to discipline officials?
She indicated that accounting officers should be punished for failure to discipline public servants who have committed financial misconduct.
In response, Dr Fikeni outlined that there is a need for legislative reform to ensure that the PSC has enforcement powers. And this requires working closely with Parliament and the Executives. He added that despite not having enforcement powers, the PSC had found creative ways to respond to these issues.
He indicated that when analysing the Auditor-General’s report and other reports of corruption, the weakest link in each of the departments is the weakness in the human resource units. This is where consequence management and other processes take place. He thus indicated the need to review even the penalties given so that it is not a slap on the wrist. For this to happen, it would require all role players to be on board.
He outlined that most public servants want to get their work done. However, it is demoralising to them when those in strategic positions commit grievous misconduct.
Dr Henk Boshoff, PSC Commissioner, added that there are dedicated public servants but there are also a few of those who commit misconduct resulting in a reputational stain.
He reiterated that it was also concerning that there was money that could not be recovered despite all compelling evidence.
On communication methods, he said that the PSC does not only request information from the departments on an annual basis but also quarterly which is followed up with telephone calls and letters.
On the root cause of the financial misconduct, he indicated that there was a need to restore ethical behaviour in the public service.
On uniformity in sanctions, he indicated that this was an ideal cause. Currently, however, the presiding officers determine the sanctions.
On the mechanisms to communicate, Ms Malatsi added the PSC writes letters to accounting officers quarterly. He also mentioned that the PSC also interacts with Ethics Officers. Therefore those departments that did not submit their reports were adequately contacted and reminded. He also indicated that there is an effort by the PSC to engage with the ministers in the departments.
On misconduct in the Department of Higher Education, he outlined that the amount involved five officials of which two were at level eight, one at level nine, another in middle management at level 12, and another being a chief financial officer (CFO) at level 15. The ones at levels eight and twelve overpaid their salaries. The level 15 CFO awarded a tender to a bidder who did not score the highest point. He was found guilty and was dismissed, and no money has been recovered from him thus far.
On public servants who resigned amid disciplinary action, he indicated that there is recourse for such cases.
The Chairperson thanked the PSC for its presentation and responses.
The meeting was adjourned.
James, Mr TH
Gondwe, Dr M
Kibi, Ms MT
Komane, Ms RN
Maneli, Ms ST
McGluwa, Mr JJ
Mgweba, Ms T
Motsepe, Ms CCS
Ntuli, Ms M M
Pilane-Majake, Dr MC
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