“The commission has commenced its inquiry with the education sector first because that is what the terms of reference require it to do. However, the commission had certain reservations regarding the practical implications of isolating the inquiry for education sectors from the rest,” commission chairman Sandile Ngcobo said in Pretoria.
“The commission considered that it is not desirable to consider and finalise the remunerations and conditions of service for the education sector in isolation, without considering these issues as they relate to other public servants and public entities staff. There are issues that apply to all public servants such as leave, discipline and criteria for job classification.”
Ngcobo said there was a need to bring uniformity to the conditions of service in the public sector because there was great concern over disparities in remuneration levels for different categories within the rank and file of government employees.
Considering the enormity of the public sector, Ngcobo said considering the subdivisions sequentially would prolong his commission’s lifespan.
“Given these considerations, the commission took the view that while the investigations have commenced with educators, recommendations on the conditions of service and remuneration relating to the education sector should not be finalised until the remuneration and conditions of service for all the other sectors have been considered,” said the former chief justice.
“This approach is essential in order to avoid any inconsistencies that might result from a consideration of these issues separately and without regard to each other.”
He said the gathering at a Pretoria hotel on Wednesday was a prelude to the commencement of investigations into the remaining sectors of government.
The inquiry would be conducted in three main phases. The initial stage will be for information gathering. The second stage will be dedicated to analysis and the third segment focusing on reporting.
Public hearings, baseline research and information requests constitute the initial phase which was already underway. Site visits may be conducted in this phase to areas where public servants work.
The commission would analyse all information submitted and prepare its report in the second phase. The reporting phase has two segments.
“The first phase will involve the publication of provisional findings and provisional recommendations. The publishing will enable stakeholders on the report. Once we receive comments, we will consider them and if necessary we might request further information or seek further clarification,” said Ngcobo.
“Once we have received and considered all that information, we will then publish the final report. As matters stand the commission has until the 6th of April 2017 to complete its work. The period required for the completion of the work must be viewed against the mandate.”
He said the mandate of the inquiry was not limited to remuneration and conditions of service but extended to the efficiency of service delivery, management of fiscal stability and the efficiency of the public service.
Ngcobo leads a three-member inquiry established by President Jacob Zuma in 2013. The other commissioners are Dr Vincent Maphai and Elizabeth Maepa.
The commission was also mandated to identify “best practices” in remuneration and conditions of service applied to the public service and in 214 public enterprises.
All employees in public service, regardless of their rank, are included in the investigation.