Govt mandarins net nice cash

2011-03-19 19:13

One of the top five most highly paid public servants in South ­Africa remains at home on full pay pending the outcome of an ­investigation into a range of ­alleged misdemeanours.

Siviwe Dongwana, director-general of the troubled ­Department of Public Works, was abruptly suspended in December last year just seven months after he was appointed but continues to earn a package of more than R1.5 million a year.

He allegedly got caught in the crossfire surrounding the lease of the R500 million Middestad building as a new police HQ.

Dongwana was director-general when public works first decided the lease was illegal – a decision that was overturned when a new minister took over.

He was suspended from his post on December 7 by Public Works Minister Gwen Mahlangu-­Nkabinde on the day he was due to be ­interviewed by the Public ­Protector about his role in signing off the controversial lease agreement.

For the first time light has been shed on what the state’s top mandarins earn.

Figures were released by ­government in response to a battery of access-to-information requests filed by Media24 Investigations.

Today, as a result, we can ­publish the most detailed list ­compiled to date of what South ­Africa’s top civil servants earn.

Thirty-two responded to our ­requests, two flatly refused, two ignored the applications and two claimed not to have received any enquiries.

However, the details that have emerged give insight into the great range of pay at director-general level and how the top earners rake in over R500 000 more than directors-general at the bottom end of the ladder.
Dongwana is the top known earner, with a yearly package of R1 508 967.

This week public works spokesperson Obakeng Modikoe refused to respond to questions about Dongwana’s suspension, claimingthe matter was “sub ­judice and any further comment may prejudice the case”.

Hot on Dongwana’s heels as top earners are mineral resources director-genera; Sandile Nogxina with a ­salary of R1 486 668, correctional services’ Thomas Moyane, with R1 462 980 and outgoing international relations’ Ayanda Ntsaluba with a salary of R 1 443 051.

At the bottom end of the scale are communications director-general Dr ­Harold Wesso with R1 067 556, ­labour’s Sam Morotoba with R1 025 133, arts and culture DG Veliswa Baduza with R976 317 and acting higher education director-general Gwebinkundla Qonde with R976 317.

Jimmy Manyi, the controversial government communications director-general and chief government spin-doctor, earns R1 339 518.

By comparison, President Jacob Zuma earns an average of R2.3 million a year.

Ministers earn about R1.7 million, while their deputies earn an average of R1.5 million a year.

Two key departments, state ­security and public enterprises, ­refused to respond to requests we filed in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA).

State ­security claimed that national security would be endangered and public enterprises claimed that the information “constitutes personal ­information which is protected from disclosure”.

The departments of transport and cooperative governance simply ­ignored our requests.

The police and human ­settlements ministries claimed not to have received the PAIA ­applications.

The requests were all lodged with the Department of Public Service and Administration last ­December and forwarded to all departments later that month.

Departments have 30 days to decide whether or not to grant a request for information.

ANC spokesperson Brian ­Sokutu said salary packages for DGs were market-related.

“If you compare them to the private ­sector, DGs perform the same roles as CEOs,” he said.

Labour federation Cosatu’s spokesperson, Patrick Craven, said the high salary packages were an indication that private-sector habits were creeping into the public sector. “There is some sort of thinking that there is an entitlement to big salaries as some say if their counterparts in the private sector are getting it. We reject that because the public sector is there for the public,” he said.

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