Gauteng government suspensions cost millions

The officials were suspended for violating the Public Finance Management Act.

The Gauteng government has strained the budget allocated for service delivery by spending about R10.5 million paying the salaries of officials who were suspended for various reasons in the 2014-15 financial year.

This was revealed in a report released by the Gauteng Public Service Commission (PSC) commissioner Michael Seloane this week. The officials were suspended for different acts of misconduct, including the violation of the Public Finance Management Act.

The report said it was concerning that the money was spent on salaries for officials whose precautionary suspensions lasted for more than the prescribed period of 60 working days. It said the government expended a total of R64.3 million on officials’ precautionary suspensions in the 2010-11 and 2014-15 financial years.

“The Gauteng departments are not using the state resources effectively because they pay the salaries of officials that are home for a very long time,” said the report. “What is more worrying is that there are precautionary suspensions that lasted for periods of between 61 and 820 working days.”

The Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council’s Resolution one of 2003 provides that a disciplinary hearing against a suspended official must be held within 60 working days after the suspension, added the report.

The PSC has observed that there was a lack of compliance with Resolution 1 of 2003 of the disciplinary code and procedures, and section 195 (1) (b) of the Constitution, said the report. One of the PSC’s recommendations was that accounting officers should put mechanisms in place to ensure precautionary suspensions did not exceed a period of 60 working days.

Gauteng government spokesperson Thabo Masebe said the government had acted within the confines of the law in all the cases where officials were suspended. He said there were delays due to postponements of the disciplinary hearing sessions in some cases, adding they were not caused by the government.

“If an official is suspended for improper conduct, you still have to respect the constitutional right of that official,” said Masebe. “The 60-day period relates to the time before then official is charged. And the hearing will then take more days.”

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