Government explains why disciplinary cases against officials are delayed

09 December 2021 - 11:28
Some government departments are not concluding disciplinary matters within stipulated time frames. Stock photo.
Some government departments are not concluding disciplinary matters within stipulated time frames. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/markhoward

A shortage of labour relations staff, appeals and interference have been cited as some of the reasons for delays in finalising disciplinary cases involving officials in government departments.

This was the response to a recent parliamentary question by DA MP Dr Mimmy Gondwe to the department of public service and administration (DPSA).

Minister Ayanda Dlodlo said the department had investigated why some government departments were battling to conclude disciplinary cases within the stipulated time frames.

“Interferences were reported, where it was alleged that suspensions were sometimes used as a tool to neutralise opposition, or employees from different camps or interest groups. Heads of departments and labour relations officials are scared to address interference due to a fear of retaliation,” she said.

Other reasons included the unavailability of chairpersons in provinces.

“Shortage of labour relations employees. Unavailability of tools of the trade, especially where educators are involved. The complexity of cases is due to sector-specific challenges, such as in education and health,” Dlodlo said in the written response.

To help government departments failing to finalise disciplinary cases within the stipulated time frames, the DPSA launched a project in which the minister held one-on-one meetings with executive authorities of departments identified as having long-overdue disciplinary cases and precautionary suspensions to ascertain the reasons for backlogs and to pledge support, she said. 

“A decrease in suspensions and in the costs of precautionary suspensions, as well as an improvement in the capturing of cases on the Personnel Salary System (Persal) were noted at the end of March 2021. By the end of March 2021, provinces finalised 78% of their backlogs, said Dlodlo.

“The cost of precautionary suspensions for national departments stabilised around R20m per quarter and the cost for precautionary suspensions in provinces decreased to a new low level — almost R25m less than what the year started with.

“The two provinces that had the most precautionary suspensions also managed to reduce their backlogs. The Free State reduced its cost from R12m in [quarter three] to R6m in [quarter four]. KwaZulu-Natal managed to reduce their cost from a high of R92m in [quarter three] to R21m in [quarter four]. The amounts reflected here are based on all disciplinary cases captured on Persal.”

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