South Africa


Commissioner Gxoyiya issues stern warning to health department to pay up R73.7m owed to service providers

Commissioner Gxoyiya issues stern warning to health department to pay up R73.7m owed to service providers
Commissioner of the Public Service Commission Anele Gxoyiya hosts a media briefing on the Quarterly Bulletin titled The Pulse of the Public Service for the period 1 July to 30 September 2022. (Photo: Siyabulela Duda / GCIS)

Every province, apart from the Western Cape, owes money to service providers, with outstanding invoices running into millions of rands. This was revealed by the Public Service Commission’s Anele Gxoyiya during a media briefing on Tuesday.

Anele Gxoyiya, a commissioner on the Public Service Commission (PSC), unpacked the Quarterly Bulletin titled The Pulse of the Public Service, which covered the period from 1 July to 30 September. The briefing dealt with unlawful instructions and ethical dilemmas within the public service, enablers and inhibitors of job performances of senior management service, non-payment of government suppliers, and complaints and grievances handled by the PSC. 

Non-payment of suppliers within 30 days 

Gxoyiya said non-payment of suppliers was “a serious problem that needs to be addressed”. He referred to the festive season as a time when suppliers needed to be paid, as people had responsibilities.

“The non-payment of invoices on time affects small, medium and micro enterprises severely, to an extent that it threatens their very survival … some cannot honour their financial obligations as they mostly do not have financial reserves to utilise,” said Gxoyiya. 

“So, you can imagine the impact it has on those service providers.”

Providing a provincial breakdown, Gxoyiya said only the Western Cape did not have unpaid invoices. 

By September 2022, the Eastern Cape owed R2-billion to suppliers, Gauteng R1.2-billion and North West R255-million. 

Nationally, the departments that paid suppliers within the quarter’s reporting period included Labour; Mineral Resources and Energy; Sports, Arts and Culture; Public Enterprises; Transport; and Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities. 

A stern warning was issued to the Department of Health. Gxoyiya said “they are owing more and more”. 

The department, Gxoyiya said, was going “deeper and deeper into crisis”. According to information supplied by the PSC, the department had, in July, 2,923 invoices outstanding, amounting to R73.7-million. The situation remained virtually unchanged in August and September.

Complaints handled by the PSC 

Gxoyiya said the PSC had the mandate to investigate of its own accord, or on receipt of a complaint about personnel or public administration practices, and report to the relevant executive authorities and legislatures. 

These practices relate to irregular appointments, transfers, qualifications, practices that relate to procurement irregularities and poor service delivery. 

“The own-accord investigations undertaken are identified through an analysis of the trends of the complaints handled by the PSC and through media reports,” said Gxoyiya. 

Over the first quarter of the 2022/23 financial year, there were 415 complaints received by the national anti-corruption hotline. In the second quarter, 324 complaints were received. A total of 260 complaints were lodged against national departments, 148 against provinces and 331 against public entities. 

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Ethical dilemmas in the public service

During the briefing, Gxoyiya said corruption “undermines democracy and public trust in government and negatively impacts state services and thus community and social development”. 

Corruption also negatively affected investor confidence in the country, he said. 

“The Zondo Commission … highlights the seriousness of corruption and unethical practices in the country.”

Another problem was the issuing of unlawful instructions by executive authorities and some senior managers with “influential positions in government”. 

“Anecdotal evidence on complaints received by the PSC indicates that certain executive authorities made unlawful instructions in departments, and these obstruct heads of department from making lawful decisions,” said Gxoyiya. 

“Of critical importance is that ignorance of the law is an inadequate defence if an unlawful instruction is issued,” he said

Gxoyiya said there were instances where executive authorities hid behind claims that they did not know the law and acted on the advice of officials. 

“Public servants must exercise ethical decisions/discretion first, and their own interests must always be subordinate to the public interest. 

“Where doubt exists about the lawfulness of instruction/proposed action, legal advice should be sought from internal legal services/external sources such as the Office of the State Attorney or the Office of the Chief State Law Advisor,” said Gxoyiya, adding that under the Public Finance Management Act, any directive with financial implications, by an executive authority to an accounting officer, must be done in writing. 

Inhibitors and enablers of job performances 

“One of the critical characteristics of a developmental state is the efficiency and effectiveness of the public service,” said Gxoyiya. 

In 2022/23, the PSC conducted an investigative analysis into enablers and inhibitors of job performances of senior managers in the public service. 

Gxoyiya said the study explored whether performances within the Senior Management Service (SMS) were consistent with the demands of a developmental state, the ambitions of the National Development Plan and the aspirations of the Constitution. 

“The findings suggest that all SMS members who participated in the study have a clear understanding of the conduct, decorum, professionalism and the essential values befitting of an ideal public servant, quality service delivery and optimal performance,” said Gxoyiya. 

However, the proper fulfilment of the capability that already exists, to shift performance from satisfactory to optimal, was hindered by a number of “critical” inhibitors, said Gxoyiya. These included: 

  • Toxic organisational culture;
  • Appointment and/or deployment of incompetent persons into key positions;
  • Lack of support from some superiors;
  • Continuous restructuring/reorganisation;
  • Low staff morale and lack of passion for work assigned, and budget cuts.

“In addition, the findings suggest that the prescripts that govern the human resource management value chain are clear, but their effectiveness is undermined by non-compliance and inconsistent implementation,” said Gxoyiya. 

“The study also identified a range of factors that serve as performance enablers. Amongst others, performance enablers for SMS members include prompt and constructive support and feedback from competent supervisors/managers, teamwork/collaboration between colleagues and departmental units, recognition by peers and superiors, and exposure to training and development opportunities.” DM


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