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Thu Dec 18 02:42:42 SAST 2014

Paying consultants to do civil servants' jobs is outrageous

The Times Editorial | 25 January, 2013 00:18

The Times Editorial: It is shocking and downright criminal. How can our government pay about R33-billion to consultants because it has failed to fill key posts in its departments?

Deputy Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu revealed yesterday that state departments hired consultants and paid them billions of rands while permanent staff continued to draw salaries.

In just three financial years (2008-09 to 2010-11) consultants collected a total of almost R33-billion - and the trend is likely to continue as long the state is unable to attract and fast-track the employment of qualified people to its departments.

Why is it that, with such a high unemployment rate among graduates, the state is unable to employ people?

Is it low salaries or mismanagement that has driven people away from the public sector?

Makwetu said yesterday that vacancy rates had led to some departments turning to consultants in areas such as information technology, financial management and project management.

It defies logic that we are able to pay consultants billions at the same time that we complain about the lack of professionals in our public sector.

The spending of this money, which could have been used for other projects and to fill posts permanently, shows that we are far from creating an efficient public service that will attract the most skilled among us.

We simply cannot afford to outsource the government's key functions while we have permanent civil servants.

Public Service and Administration Minister Lindiwe Sisulu needs to explain why 42 consultancy projects to the value of about R3-billion were contracted on the basis that there was a lack of internal capacity and skills in departments.

If those currently employed do not have the necessary skills, what do they do every day to justify their pay cheques?

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