Why government's public sector problems are bigger than the wage bill

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As Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana looks for ways to reduce the public wage bill, there are diverging views on where he should start.
As Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana looks for ways to reduce the public wage bill, there are diverging views on where he should start.
Brenton Geach/Gallo Images via Getty Images

Across the public sector, including state-owned entities (SOEs) and the technocrats that run government departments with the ministers, the government employs around 13% of all workers in the country - yet it pays 33% of all wages. 

Taking into account the public service alone, the South African government employs 1.2 million people, and less than two-thirds of this group - 65% - are frontline workers like teachers and nurses.

The delivery of public services in South Africa, meanwhile, is dismal, even though wages paid to workers to ensure delivery is giving the National Treasury a headache.

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