Minister for Public Service and Administration, Mr Senzo Mchunu

All vacant Directors-General and Head of Departments positions must be filled as part of working towards a capable, ethical, developmental and public service space.

These are the views of Public Service and Administration Minister, Mr Senzo Mchunu who had recently written to President Cyril Ramaphosa, advising him about the need for the vacancies to be filled.

Minister Mchunu said: “in working towards a capable, ethical, developmental and professional public service, those in the upper echelons need to lead by example. Prolonged vacancies in such critical posts cannot persist; executive authorities need to ensure that their departments are fully capacitated and able to deliver on their respective mandates.”

He said the detrimental effect that the vacancies have on business continuity, exacerbates the stability and capacity of government in executing its responsibility of improving the lives of the people through rendering quality services.

The Minister has further requested that the matter be discussed in a meeting of the Presidential Co-ordinating Council (PCC).

At the end of the 3rd quarter of the current financial year, the department, through its assessment of the public service, identified eight vacant Director-Generals posts and 24 Heads of Department vacant posts.

The duration of the vacancies range from 2017 in respect of a particular Director-General post (Department of Social Development) and 2014 in respect of the Head of Department: Provincial Treasury Northern Cape.

According to the Minister, while some of the vacancies have since been filled, there is an urgency to fill the remaining ones. He said where there are vacant positions, there are employees appointed on an acting capacity in terms of section 32 of the Public Service Act as well as regulation 63 of the Public Service Regulations.

Earlier this month, the DPSA published the Public Service Amendment Bill as well as the Public Administration Management Amendment Bill for public comment.

One of the amendments to the Public Service Act 1994, concerns the devolution of administrative powers to heads of department in national and provincial departments and government components.

Currently, section 7 of the Public Service Act provides that the head of department shall be responsible for the efficient management and administration of their respective departments.

Great responsibility is also accorded to Heads of Department as ‘Accounting Officers’ in terms of the Public Finance Management Act.

Minister Mchunu further said: “This matter deserves urgent attention; executive authorities provide political leadership; whereas heads of department are a component of administrative leadership.

For the country to develop, not only must there be public service and public servants, and any other public space component for that matter, but Heads of Department in particular must be at the forefront – putting their knowledge and skills into action, in the interests and to the benefit of the country.”