Public Service and Administration Deputy Minister, Dr Chana Pilane-Majake

The Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) team, led by Deputy Minister Dr Chana Pilane-Majake and Director-General Ms Yoliswa Makhasi, yesterday briefed the Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration about the Public Administration Management Amendment Bill and the Public Service Amendment Bill.

The two proposed Bills, amongst others, aim to clarify the prohibition of public servants from conducting business with organs of state and the devolution of administrative powers from executive authorities to heads of departments.

Presenting the Bills, DPSA Chief Director of Legal Services, Ms Renisha Naidoo, said the Bills were published for public comment in the Government Gazette on April 6, 2021.

“After extensive consultations at the relevant Bargaining Councils, the Bills were processed through the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac), where parties have agreed to the redrafted Bills after robust engagements,” she said.

The Public Service Amendment Bill, 2023

Section 3(7) of the Public Service Act (PSA) is being changed to ensure that the Executive Authority has strategic powers and the head of a department has administrative powers. It is hoped that the amendment would result in efficiencies and contribute to the professionalisation of the Public Service for the following reasons:

  • Decision-making becomes workable and efficient if the decision-makers are closer to the administration.
  • When administrative and financial responsibilities are in the same place, they are easier to track.
  • Heads of department and accounting officers can better align budgeting processes to human resource matters if they have vested powers regarding both the Public Service Act and the Public Finance Management Act.
  • The conflicts and tension that sometimes arise between the executive authority and the head of a department or accounting officer are less likely to impact the department’s administration negatively.
  • Executive authorities can focus on strategic matters and their Constitutional obligations without dealing with routine administrative issues.

However, the amendment to Section 3(7) of the PSA proposes that an executive authority should ensure that the department head’s roles and responsibilities align with the department’s strategic plan.

The amendments to the PSA also provide additional responsibilities to the position of the Director-General in the Presidency as the “Head of the Public Administration” (as envisaged in the NDP). Consequently, this will empower the Director-General in the Presidency to be the Secretary to the Cabinet, coordinate, convene and chair the Forum of South African Directors-General, made up of all heads of departments. A similar provision exists for each Director-General in the Office of a Premier to play a similar role within the relevant province.

Clause 14(a) amends section 32 to clarify the provisions around the re-assignment of employees (internal secondments) as follows:

  • The Executive Authority for that portfolio may re-assign a head of a department.
  • The head of a department may re-assign any other employee.
  • The re-assignment may only be within the department.

While Clause 15 seeks to amend section 35 to provide that the Minister for the Public Service and Administration shall determine the procedure when employees refer grievances within the department.

The Public Administration Management Amendment Bill, 2023

The Single Public Administration project, which underpinned the Principal Act (PAMA), sought to create a cohesive and synergised public administration. Toward this end, the amendments to PAMA include the provisions for transferring and seconding employees across the three spheres of Government, the removal of employment disparities across the public administration and coordinating the mandating process for collective bargaining.

A new provision, which is Section 8A, has been inserted into PAMA to address the conduct of employees or former employees who illegally award work to service providers. This provision seeks to prohibit an employee who was part of awarding contracts over the prescribed amount through setting criteria, evaluation, adjudication, recommendation, or approval, from accepting employment with a successful service provider or any gratification from that service provider for 12 months.

Moreover, the PAMA Bill seeks to introduce the following amendments:

  • National School of Government – To create the National School of Government as a national department instead of establishing it as a higher education institution (amendment of section 11 of the Principal Act).
  • Minimum norms and standards – To repeal section 16(2) of the Principal Act, clauses 12-13 will allow the Minister for the Public Service and Administration to issue norms and standards in respect of the promotion of values and principles contemplated in section 195 of the Constitution to be done through regulations following the processes considered in section 18 of the Principal Act.
  • Clause 13- Office of Standards and Compliance – Section 17(7) of the Principal Act requires the Minister responsible for the Public Service and Administration to prescribe the powers of the Office and its members. The Principal Act does not provide for the functions of individual members; therefore, it is proposed that it is not necessary for the powers of members to be prescribed.
  • New provisions 17A and 17B – The proposed section 17A seeks to address the removal of unjustifiable disparities across the public administration, including public entities.
  • Section 17A provides a process for the Minister to, after consultation with the relevant Minister responsible, prescribe norms and standards to establish the upper limits or remuneration and conditions of service for employees who do not fall within the scope of the relevant bargaining council. The above section also empowers the Minister to prescribe steps to remove unjustifiable disparities among employees in and across institutions and public entities, provided that such measures must not reduce an employee’s salary unless provided for in an Act of Parliament or collective agreement.
  • Section 17B seeks to regulate the determination of conditions of service with financial implications and provides for the coordination of mandating processes for collective bargaining in the public administration, including public entities.