The handling of disciplinary cases in Eastern Cape government departments is riddled with critical challenges, and the lack of consequences is allowing corruption and maladministration run rampant. This is crippling the public sector’s ability to deliver services to the people of the province.
In response to a parliamentary question, Premier Oscar Mabuyane revealed that there are currently 108 active disciplinary cases across departments.
SEE: IQP 11 Q238
It has become clear that the ANC government lacks the political will to speedily deal with these disciplinary cases.
Of these cases, three are against chief directors, six against directors, fourteen against deputy directors and nine against assistant directors.
Of those facing disciplinary action, 33 have been suspended with full pay. Interestingly, the Premier did not answer the question on the cost of salaries, saying only that employees placed on precautionary suspension must receive their salaries, in line with the provisions of PSCBC resolution 1 of 2003, the public sector disciplinary code.
Several of these cases have been drawn out.
The Department of Economic Development and Environmental Affairs is the worst offender, with eight cases taking over three years to complete, and the remaining six disciplinary cases taking two years to complete.
Disciplinary hearings at the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs as well as the Department of Social Development had cases that took an entire year to be resolved.
The Department of Education (DoE) is another example of a department with lengthy and ineffective disciplinary processes, with 44 of the 58 cases taking over three months to resolve.
The Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform had four cases that have dragged on for three months or more.
It is unacceptable that disciplinary hearings are being dragged out in this manner, while taxpayers continue to pay officials for not being in the office.
When asked what the outcomes of the disciplinary hearings were, the Premier could only confirm that 4 out of the 108 cases had resulted in suspensions.
Line managers and supervisors must be trained on disciplinary codes and procedures, labour relations, application of labour laws and the handling of disciplinary processes.
In-depth training, not only on the obvious i.e. disciplinary codes and procedures, but also on how leadership relates to discipline management, must be prioritised.
Government needs to show that it is serious about consequences and about delivering clean governance at a provincial level.
The Premier must demonstrate his commitment to fight indiscipline in departments by finalising disciplinary cases within the acceptable time frame by establishing strategies that finalise disciplinary cases promptly.