Draft Public Service Laws Amendment Bill: discussion

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Meeting report

PUBLIC SERVICE & ADMINISTRATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE

PUBLIC SERVICE & ADMINISTRATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
8 June 1998
DRAFT PUBLIC SERVICE LAWS AMENDMENT BILL

Documents handed out:
Draft Public Service Laws Amendment Bill

SUMMARY
The discussion centred on misconduct in the public service and the disciplinary procedures which need to be put into place to eradicate it. The appointment of department heads and their role in the various provinces was also discussed. The committee requested that the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) review the issues discussed at the meeting and report back on the steps they are going to take to solve problems in the public service.

DETAILED MINUTES
Mr Du Toit (DPSA) gave a briefing on the draft bill. He said that currently there is uncertainty and confusion with regard to disciplinary procedures and the appointment procedure of officials in the public service.

The amendment bill had been drafted not only to stamp out misconduct in the public service but also to clarify the procedure of appointing department heads as well as defining the role they are expected to play.

Mr Du Toit assured the committee that the appointment of department heads in provinces would not undermine the MECs role. The MEC would still be responsible for the running of a province, the heads would only be responsible for administering a particular sector. The benefit of this would be that the department head and the MEC have shared responsibility regarding issues of their province. The Department of Public Services and Administration stated that the appointees would be listed as head of departments appointed on contract as was the case with directors-general. The new rank of head of department is not on the same level as that of director-general. Much depended on the amount of responsibility the person carries as referred to on page 7 of the draft Bill.

Mr Johan van der Hoven also from the DPSA confirmed that misconduct could be eradicated by the removal of sections 18-27 of the current Act. Mr Salie Manie stated that this would put the law in the hands of the department and out of the hands of the legislature.

There is great concern over what the relationship between the MEC, director-general and the department heads will be. The DPSA confirmed that the heads would serve as the secretary of the executive council. His/her responsibility would be to take minutes, liaise with different departments on certain matters and other administrative duties.

The question of what would be the role and the power of the MEC with the appointment of these heads was raised. Mr Du Toit stated that the MEC will remain politically accountable for issues of provinces. The heads will only assist the MEC and manage certain issues but the MEC would still be the head of the province.

Mr Phillips (ANC) and Mr De Beer (NP) were concerned about the policy of appointments. The procedure regarding the appointment and the duration of this process was raised. Mr Phillips and Mr De Beer wanted to know whether cases could be dealt with speedily.

The department could not give an indication regarding the time frame of these proceedings. Mr Van der Hoven suggested that a collective agreement should be reached in the hope that these problems would be solved. Both Mr Phillips and Mr De Beer requested that the department work on this issue of time frame so that someone could be held accountable for the process. Mr Phillips also suggested that the department review the issue and tie all the loose ends and then return to the committee with solutions.

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