PSA slams call to ban Home Affairs officials from using cellphones at front desks

2019-01-15 17:01
Department of Home Affairs (File)

Department of Home Affairs (File)

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The Public Servants Association of South Africa (PSA) has slammed the call by Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs to ban the use of cellphones by officials at their front desks as "misplaced and ill-informed".

Portfolio committee chairperson Hlomani Chauke on Monday urged the department to consider the ban during working hours, following an "excessive amount of complaints".

Chauke said it was "unacceptable" that home affairs officials were on their phones while the public spent "excessive amounts of time" at their offices.

READ: Ban home affairs officials from using cellphones at front desks – MPs

"One of the keys to resolving the long queues at home affairs offices is by ensuring that officials are at their desks offering the services they are employed to do," he said.

The PSA hit back on Tuesday, saying the portfolio committee's suggestion was "misplaced" and "ill-informed".

"The PSA therefore wants to sensitise the portfolio committee on its roles and responsibilities and advises it to rather focus on these, instead of interfering with government employees’ terms and conditions of employment," said PSA general manager Ivan Fredericks.

"The Department of Home Affairs has a policy that regulates the use of cellphones by employees. This was consulted amongst parties at the bargaining chamber. The department was part of this process that resulted in the policy being adopted."

'Reckless'

Chauke had also called for a nationwide implementation of a draft framework that would give guidelines on the use of cellphones at front desks.

Fredericks clarified their position on that matter.

"These matters are negotiated at the relevant bargaining structures and the committee does not have any power to change these, unless negotiated and agreed upon at [a] sectoral level."

Fredericks called on the portfolio committee to refrain from making "reckless" statements.

"Such utterances expose public servants to undue public abuse and even physical attacks at the workplace, when effective measures are already in place to address such conduct where warranted," he claimed.

In March last year, a video went viral of a home affairs official using social media while stamping documents.

WATCH: Home affairs official busy on social media while stamping passports

In the video, the official – who is wearing a black home affairs T-shirt – can be seen distractedly checking a passport while focusing on her phone where a Facebook feed is open.

Then-minister Malusi Gigaba tweeted that he had been informed of the incident and was investigating.

Read more on:    psa  |  home affairs  |  service delivery
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