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Prescripts governing the appointment and remuneration of Special Advisors for Executive Authority in government

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The Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) Director General- General, Ms Yoliswa Makhasi issued a circular outlining update on regulations governing the appointment and remuneration of Special Advisors for executive authorities in national and provincial government.

The Circular states that Ministers and Premiers can only appoint two full-time Special Advisors unless Cabinet or the Provincial Executive approves two more additional special advisors as a result of the workload requirements.

“The provision to appoint Special Advisors in terms of section 12A of the Public Service Act, 1994, as amended, is limited to two full-time equivalent positions for each Minister and Premier unless Cabinet or the relevant Provincial Executive Council approves a higher number of up to two additional full-time equivalents for each Minister and Premier because of work requirement,” said Ms Makhasi.

The Director- General said the President and his Deputy may appoint as many advisors as they may see fit, adding that Cabinet may also reduce the number of Special Advisors that Ministers and Premiers may employ.

The regulations stipulate that Members of the Executive Councils (MECs) and the Chairperson of the Public Service Commission are, in terms of a Cabinet decision, excluded from the provision to appoint Special Advisors in terms of section 12A of the Public Service Act.

Special Advisors appointed to both the Ministers and Premiers may be utilised by Deputy Ministers and MECs for specific tasks by arrangement with the Minister or Premier concerned.

According to DG Makhasi, only South African citizens should be appointed as Special Advisors. “All candidates for appointment as Special Advisors should be subjected to a security clearance before appointment. If an Executive Authority wishes to deviate from this requirement, the matter must be submitted to the President.”

“Executive Authorities are expected to submit proposals/recommendations for the appointment for the individual Special Advisors to the Minister for the Public Service and Administration for approval of the individual’s compensation level before the appointment/upgrade is effected.

“When submitting proposals/recommendations for the appointment of individual Special Advisors, the Executive Authority must attach detailed motivation for approval of compensation level including appointment capacity; comprehensive Curriculum Vitae of the person; the person’s remuneration or proof of payslip at his/her current employer; security screening; list or names of Special Advisors appointed by the Executive Authority,” The Director General elaborated.

Ms Makhasi said that the Executive Authority should ensure that the recommended Special Advisor obtain a security clearance as required by the dispensation.

She further said that the Executive Authority should enter into employment contract with the Special Advisor and the duration of the contract shall be agreed upon by the relevant Executive Authority and the Special Advisor and be limited to the term of the political principal. The contract must be followed by a performance agreement.

The Public Management Act dictates that an employee may not conduct business with the state or be a Director of a public or private company conducting business with the state, therefore also applies to Special Advisor who is under the employ of public service.

Compensation level to Special Advisors

There is a dispensation that provides for a criteria for compensation of Special Advisors from a minimum inclusive flexible remuneration package as approved by the Minister for the Public Service and Administration.

Executive Authority may however award higher packages within the approved compensation levels to servicing Special Advisors or Special Advisors on appointment based on the recruitment and retention of suitable persons.

Compensation level I is applicable to a person who enjoys noticeable national recognition as a competent expert and where the complexity of the advice to be rendered is comparable to that given by a Director in the public service space.

Meanwhile, Compensation level II is applicable to competent expert at national level and where the complexity of the advice to be rendered is comparable to that of a Chief Director.

Compensation level III is applicable to a person who is a competent expert at national and international level and is remunerated at a rate of a Deputy Director- General.

Compensation level IV-  is regarded as limited to the appointment and retention of persons with very high-level skills or scarce skills and is pitched at the level of a Director- General.

Director-General Makhasi urges Head of Departments to ensure that executive authorities in their respective departments are made aware of the provisions of the circular and the dispensation.