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Crackdown on ministers: When you leave, your staff leave too


Crackdown on ministers: When you leave, your staff leave too

New law will put an end to departments being bloated by extra staff left behind when ministers go


Ministers and deputy ministers will be breaking the law if they leave behind big staff complements in government departments when they are reshuffled or fired. This new law, gazetted by public service and administration minister Ayanda Dlodlo this month, seeks to reduce the size of the bloated civil service.
Ministers and deputy ministers are allowed to have 10 and six personal staff members respectively in their office, but many of them have violated this rule. And when ministers are axed or removed from their positions, they insist that their personal staff remain in the civil service and earn from the public coffers even though they usually do not have a job function. Dlodlo’s spokesperson, Mava Scott, said this new law “stops ministers from saying, come hell or high water my staff will be absorbed in the department”. “There has been a problem for quite some time where ministers leave staff in departments and it becomes a bloated structure.”
Scott said some ministers left as many as 12 people who were transferred to the department from the ministry, further stretching the public purse. “This law ensures when you leave, your staff leaves too and their term is linked to the political term of office.”
Dlodlo felt the effects of this in her own department when her predecessor, Faith Muthambi, irregularly appointed 27 people, including friends and relatives, and left many of them behind in the department, working without functions. The effect of this law will probably be felt after the elections when the size of the executive is expected to be slashed and many ministers and deputy ministers will be sent packing.
Mava said ministers would no longer be able to dictate to departments who should be hired.
Dlodlo has been on the warpath against some of her cabinet colleagues, saying their bloated offices often lead to an unsustainable civil service.
Finance minister Tito Mboweni introduced measures last week to trim the public sector wage bill by R27bn over the next three years.

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