Suspended officials paid almost R100m
Cape Town - Government departments and entities have paid at least R93.6m to senior officials suspended with pay from April 2009 to the present, the Democratic Alliance said on Thursday.
"The actual figure is certainly much higher, but is difficult to ascertain precisely because many departments have not answered the DA's parliamentary questions on this," spokesperson Ena van Schalkwyk said.
In the 2009/10 financial year, 192 officials on salary scale 11 or above were placed on suspended leave with full pay, she said in a statement.
Another 173 had been suspended with full pay since that time, totalling 365 officials.
This amounted to an average of R257 000 paid to each official while on suspension.
"Nearly R100m has been paid to senior managers who have received full salaries despite not working," Van Schalkwyk said.
Innocent until proven guilty
Most of these officials received their salaries while awaiting the outcome of their disciplinary hearings. It was not clear how many of them were fired after the investigations were concluded and how many were retained. The DA would ask follow-up questions to find out.
Top of the list was the SA Social Security Agency paying R8 399 462, followed by the correctional services department on R6 751 607, and the rural development and land reform department on R5 800 979.
"Of course it is right that officials should not be punished financially just because they have been accused of wrongdoing. People must be considered innocent until proven guilty.
"However, we cannot have a situation where suspended officials wait for months on end with full pay before the disciplinary measures against them are finalised."
South Africa could not afford to keep errant public servants on the payroll while government departments dragged their feet. The quicker these matters were dealt with, the more money there would be for service delivery, Van Schalkwyk said.