Remuneration and Service Conditions of Deputy Public Protector: Department briefing

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Justice and Correctional Services

06 June 2005
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JUSTICE AND CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE

JUSTICE AND CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
7 June 2005
REMUNERATION AND SERVICE CONDITIONS OF DEPUTY PUBLIC PROTECTOR: DEPARTMENT BRIEFING

Chairperson:
Ms F Chohan-Khota (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Department PowerPoint presentation on remuneration of the Deputy Public Protector
Department comparative survey on remuneration and service conditions of Deputy Public Protector and Public Protector

SUMMARY
Mr Deon Rudman (Deputy Director: Legislative and Constitutional Development) gave a briefing on the remuneration and service conditions of the Deputy Public Protector (DPP). Section 2 of Public Protector Act 1994 provided that remuneration of the Deputy Public Protector should not be below that of a High Court Judge. The appointment of DPP had to be advertised in newspapers and the Government Gazette. The advertisement calling for nominations was already in newspapers and closed on the 14 June 2005.

The National Assembly had the power to appoint the DPP and determine his/her remuneration and conditions of service. The general view of Members was that a more flexible salary package for the DPP was required in order to give him/her more choices.

MINUTES
Mr Rudman said that Section 2 of the Public Protector Act provided for remuneration and conditions of service of for a the Deputy Public Protector. The speedy appointment of the Deputy had come in the wake of a need for a replacement for the Public Protector. The Public Protector might go on leave, as fixed by the Speaker upon written application. Parliament had recommended that the DPP’s remuneration be raised to higher than officials in the Office of the Public Protector. The current Public Protector had recommended that the DPP become the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), as well as Accounting Officer of the institution

Mr Rudman said that the Department of Justice held different a opinion. The DPP was appointed by Parliament to fill in for the Public Protector in his/her absence latter. The Public Protector Act stipulated that where the incumbent could not perform his/her functions, then the DPP could exercise his/her powers and functions. The Minister of Finance also supported the view that the DPP’s salary be placed on a similar scale to that of High Court Judges. The Public Service Review Committee was currently considering rationalising salaries of all Chapter Nine Institutions. Cabinet had also expressed concern over disparities in salaries and supported possible rationalisation.

The Justice Department had recommended that the DPP be placed on ‘Notch 10’, similar to Chief Director. The proposed salary should be higher than a senior official in the Office of the Public Protector. The Chairperson explained that the DPP position was not necessarily equal to that of the Public Protector. Parliament was empowered to determine the salary structure of the incumbent person. She suggested that process of de-linking remuneration packages of officials should be initiated. The Committee supported the rationalisation of salaries of all the Chapter Nine Institutions, and asked whether the Review Committee would be assessing this. Mr Rudman replied that the Review Committee had received a mandate to conduct a fairly comprehensive review process on all statutory structures.

Ms S Camerer (DA) wanted to know if there had been any re-evaluation of remuneration of officials. She asked whether the public service staff were remunerated based on experience and qualifications. Mr Rudman explained that remuneration was fixed in the legislative provisions of the Public Protector Act. Experience and qualifications were taken into account but were required by the positions. There was an official employed by the Public Protector whose salary was at the level of a CEO of a company. The senior official in question has been employed by the Public Protector since the establishment of that Office.

The conditions of service of all senior officials of Chapter Nine Institutions were governed by the Public Service Manual. The Chairperson pointed out that these institutions had been established at different times. The situation had resulted in disparities in service conditions and remuneration.

The Chairperson noted glaring disparities between salaries of the Deputies of Chapter Nine Institutions. She cautioned that the DPP was not an equivalent of a CEO of company, but the head of a constitutional body appointed by Parliament. She asked whether Parliament should consider a holistic approach to public service salaries and deal with them as single entity. She further suggested that Parliament consider whether Judges’ conditions of service could be applicable to senior officials of all Chapter Nine Institutions.

In the letter, the Public Protector had directed that the appointment be driven by affirmative action and that the appointee should become a Chief Director. Mr Mangwanishe (ANC) charged that the tone of the Public Protector’s letter was both arrogant and ultra vires. This letter was an attempt by the Public Protector to usurp the powers of Parliament. The Chairperson agreed with this strong view and said that she would check with the Public Protector.

Mr B Mangwanishe pointed out that it appeared that the DPP had to sign a performance agreement with the Public Protector. The DPP was not appointed by the Public Protector but by Parliament. Therefore any performance agreement relating to the DPP had to be signed by the Office of the Speaker of Parliament. The Chairperson agreed that the Speaker was the administrator and entitled to sign such agreement with the DPP. The performance agreement on service conditions needed clarity. In the case of a dispute arising from the performance agreement, this could harm the dignity of the Office of the Public Protector.

On the issue of leave and other service benefits, the Chairperson remarked that the work of the Public Service Review Committee was significant. He asked how the leave of a Chief Director was calculated. Was it calculated on the basis of his/her service or experience? Mr Rudman explained that a Chief Director had 32 days leave. The Public Protector had 20 days annual leave and three months leave over a four-year term of office. The Public Protector had a seven-year fixed term of office, and was entitled to three months leave within the first four-year period.

Ms Sewpaul (Director: Directorate of Constitutional Development) explained that Judges got three months annual leave because they had to write judgements during that leave time. The Chairperson undertook to co-operate with the Committee charged with re-evaluation of the service benefits of the Public Protector and other public service employees. The Public Protector should not get the same benefits as Judges as their work was different.

The meeting was adjourned.

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