South Africa

PSC briefing

Claims of unfair treatment dominate grievances in public service

Claims of unfair treatment dominate grievances in public service
South African National Memorial, Union Buildings, Pretoria, South Africa (Photo: Wikimedia / Bernard Gagnon)

The Public Service Commission released its quarterly report on grievances and complaints on Wednesday. Most of the complaints from government employees in the 2019/20 financial year had to do with unfair treatment in government departments. The provincial breakdown shows that non-compliance is the biggest issue in Gauteng.

At the Public Service Commission (PSC) press briefing, commissioner Michael Seloane said that most of the grievances they handled across the country in the 2019/20 financial year had to do with unfair treatment in government departments. 

Most of the grievances related to unfair treatment such as sexual harassment, while 145 grievances were about salary issues e.g. salary deductions without employee consultation, and 113 grievances were about performance management, for instance, being unfairly scored for performance

The grievances ranged from sexual harassment, refusals to accept applications, salary reductions without consulting employees and the filling of posts.

The PSC can, of its own accord, or based on information received, investigate personnel and public administration practices in the public sector.

Across the country, the PSC received 806 grievances, 249 of these were not properly referred which could be because the “aggrieved employees referred the cases to the PSC with no proof that their grievances were properly lodged with their departments”. These grievances were therefore not dealt with by the PSC.

The remaining 557 grievances, which were properly referred, were concluded within 30 and 45 days, respectively, of receipt of relevant information as prescribed in the relevant Grievance Rules.

“The 557 grievances that have been lodged with the PSC are an indication that departments failed to resolve these grievances internally, and thus an indicator of ineffectiveness,” reads the PSC report on grievances and complaints.

Only 381 of these grievances have been concluded, which leaves 176 cases pending. “The delays by the PSC in concluding referred grievances is often as a result of departments not providing all the necessary information when referring grievances, or taking long to submit the required information. However, sometimes delays are caused by the non-availability of other relevant parties who should be engaged, such as witnesses, members or committees that are implicated in the cases and so forth,” reads the report. 

A total of 293 of these grievances were from government departments, with 96 coming from Limpopo.

The PSC writes that they are “going to reinforce the issuing of summons against non-cooperative departments and also report this to Parliament”.

The PSC manages the National Anti-Corruption Hotline (NACH). “NACH was an amalgamation of anti-corruption hotlines which were managed by different departments. This decision was aimed at removing duplication of costs,” reads the PSC report.

In the 2019/20 financial year, the NACH received 70,500 calls which resulted in 1,591 cases. 

A full 75% of the callers wanted to remain anonymous, while 25% are whistle-blowers who provided their contact details, said Seloane.

Of the 1,591 cases of alleged corruption generated by the hotline, the  NACH referred 1,487 cases to departments for investigation. These cases included bribery, fraud, nepotism, conflict of interest and maladministration. 

A total of 110 cases were not forwarded for investigation as they had nothing to do with corruption, while 35 cases were closed due to a lack of details and 19 were withdrawn at the whistle-blower’s request.

Where cases were not forwarded for investigation, the reasons were because callers didn’t provide sufficient information for the investigation, the matter fell outside of the PSC’s mandate, or the caller didn’t reasonably raise suspicion of misconduct.

Besides calling the National Anti-Corruption Hotline, people are able to send their complaints to the PSC through email, walk-ins or by telephone. According to the PSC’s report, 121 complaints were received through these methods. They were mostly reported at the PSC’s provincial offices.

The complaints still being investigated, that were reported through walk-ins or by email, emanate from the departments of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Correctional Services and Social Development.

The PSC closed 1,090 of the 1,591 reported cases in the 2019/20 financial year, which leaves 501 outstanding cases.

When it comes to the types of corruption that were reported to the NACH in the previous financial year, 1,007 were related to social grant fraud, while 185 cases had to do with appointment irregularities and 211 concerned service delivery complaints.

According to the report, investigations are hampered by a number of factors, including receiving insufficient supporting information. 

“The PSC has expressed concern regarding the delays observed in finalising corruption cases. As a result, the PSC has requested all departments to complete investigations within a reasonable time to avoid the notion of ‘nothing will change’, which is associated with poor governance,” reads the report.

Most of the outstanding cases were in Gauteng, with 75 out of 501 unresolved cases. National departments accounted for 241 outstanding cases. 

“It would seem that Gauteng is the least compliant province insofar as the regulatory framework is concerned, as the majority of the complaints concerns irregular appointments and non-adherence to the prescripts. The majority of complaints in other provinces also concern irregular appointments,” reads the report. 

The report also notes that “feedback from the departments indicates that the PSC recommendations and directions are being implemented”. DM



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