Faith Muthambi responds to News24 article

2017-05-26 10:47

We read News24's article by Jan Gerber titled, "DA and EFF have no faith in Muthambi" with interest and dismay. The article purports to be a report on the debate on my budget vote by the opposition. Understandably the opposition uses such events to cast aspersions at the ruling party. This includes making false and uninformed comments.

One such an allegation is that Minister Muthambi wasted no time in building an empire in her office. Accordingly the minister is in breach of the Ministerial Handbook.

Nothing could be further from the truth and unless rebutted an impression will be created that Minister Muthambi has no regard for government's rules and regulations.

The truth, however, is that the Ministerial Handbook provides a guideline of core staff that may be used in the ministry. Employees employed in the Office of the Minister are employed in terms of the Public Service Act, 1994 and the Public Service Regulations, 2016. The Public Service Act provides that a Minister, being an executive authority of a department, is authorised to determine the structure and establishment of a department based on the department’s mandates, strategic plan and budget.

The minister is therefore authorised, in law, to either create posts that may be necessary for the efficient functioning of the Office of the Minister, and where necessary, to make appointments additional to the establishment for a defined period.

Most importantly, Minister Muthambi found a structure that already existed and used it as a basis for the appointment of staff in her office, therefore no appointments were made outside of the prescripts of the Ministerial Handbook or in addition to the already approved post establishment of the department.

In terms of regulation 66(1)(ii) of the Public Service Regulations, the minister may appoint a person in a post in the Office of the Minister for a period not exceeding three years. The prescripts do not have regard to the date of elections to determine the period of employment. Any person so appointed will remain in the employment of the relevant department until the expiry of their term of contract, unless terminated earlier in terms of section 17 of the Public Service Act. This provision was made in legislation to, among others, facilitate the recruitment and appointment of capable individuals who might otherwise be dis-incentivised by the prospect of much shorter term contracts

Regulation 4 of the Public Service Regulations, read with section 41(1)(d) of the Public Service Act allows the Minister of Public Service and Administration to, under justifiable circumstances, authorise a deviation from any regulations, including that of minimum requirements and higher salaries. In this instance where such deviations were made, positions, duties and responsibilities of posts were merged, resulting in actual cost savings.

The procurement of service providers is regulated by the Public Finance Management Act, 1999 and the Treasury Regulations, which processes were complied with by the Department of Public Service and Administration. These processes are managed by the department and do not, therefore, involve the minister.

Izimbizo are a very critical programme through which government interacts directly with communities to discuss how they experience governments services and to better understand their concerns, needs and recommendations. The cost of Izimbizo is not fixed but rather varies depending on such factors as the location and the availability of services or service providers in the area. Virginia, as an example, had a community hall that was available for use and could cater for the targeted number of attendees whilst Umhlabuyalingana did not have the same facility available. A marquee tent was therefore required to be procured at Umhlabuyalingana.

The amount paid to the service provider for the Umhlabuyalingana Imbizo was not only in respect of a marquee that could accommodate 2000 people but also included the engineering certificate, plastic chairs, toilet facilities, fire extinguishers as well as delivery, set up and removal costs. The costs averred as being for “decor and stage” were not limited to stage and décor but included AV equipment, generator, security as well as delivery, set up and removal costs.

- Issued on behalf of Faith Muthambi, Minister of Public Servives and Administration.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

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