Former public service and administration minister Faith Muthambi has challenged Finance Minister Tito Mboweni to prove that she is responsible for the public sector’s unmanageable wage bill.
“It is clear that there is an absence of the minister’s eyes and ears, and his lack of consultation has possessed him to utter such defamatory and irresponsible statements to the nation,” Muthambi said in response to Mboweni’s accusation during his medium-term budget policy statement to Parliament.
During a closed press conference before the speech, he blamed Muthambi and her predecessor Richard Baloyi for the huge and unmanageable public sector wage bill, saying they signed wage agreements outside their mandates.
Muthambi wanted Mboweni to apologise to the nation for “peddling lies” and accused him of gross misrepresentation of facts.
She denied signing off any wage agreements without the required mandate during her tenure as minister, a position she held from March 31 2017 to February last year.
“Had the minister taken time off his busy social media schedule to read the agreement on the salary adjustments and improvements on conditions of service in the public service, he would have not only found out who the signatories were at the time, but also discharged his duties with integrity and do justice to the office he occupies,” she said.
Muthambi said that a statement dated June 8 last year and issued by her successor, Ayanda Dlodlo, welcomed the conclusion of the wage negotiations saying that “as government we are glad that we have reached another multi-term agreement”.
In her statement at the time, Dlodlo thanked all the parties for working hard to ensure that the agreement was negotiated in the best interests of all public servants.
During his statement, Mboweni also said ministers, their deputies, premiers and MECs will not be getting a salary increase “for the foreseeable future”, because of a lack of funds. The finance minister also clipped the wings of political high-flyers, banning them from flying business class on domestic trips and capping their spending on official vehicles to no more than R800 000.
Mboweni accused both Baloyi and Muthambi for lacking accountability and said that they should be held to account “for getting us into this mess”.
Muthambi, however, said that the wage agreement was entered into only after she left the office.
“I want to put it on record that the wage agreement was entered into long after I was no longer part of the executive and I am disappointed that my name seems to be the only thing in his vocabulary, rather than him focusing on his duties.
“Trying to find scapegoats to justify his failures will not help him in any way,” Muthambi conculded.
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