Public Service and Administration Minister, Senzo Mchunu, has called on executive authorities to fill Heads of Departments (HOD) and Directors-General (DG) posts in national and provincial departments.

The Minister has since written to President Cyril Ramaphosa about the need for these vacancies to be occupied. 

Given the detrimental effect that these vacancies have on business continuity and the performance of a department, Mchunu has further requested that the matter be discussed in a meeting of the Presidential Co-ordinating Council (PCC).

“In working towards a capable, ethical, developmental and professional public service, those in the upper echelons need to lead by example. Prolonged vacancies in such critical posts cannot persist; executive authorities need to ensure that their departments are fully capacitated and able to deliver on their respective mandates,” the Minister said in a statement on Monday.

At the end of the third quarter of the 2020/2021 financial year, the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA), in its assessment of the public service, identified eight vacant DG posts, while in the case of HODs, the number of vacant posts stood at 24.

“The duration of the vacancies range from as far back as 2017 in respect of a particular Director-General post in the Department of Social Development.”

In addition, the Northern Cape Provincial Treasury has not had a department head since 2014.

“Whilst some of these vacancies have since been filled, there is an urgency for the filling of the remaining ones,” said the DPSA.

Given the nature of their appointments, which is contractual, there are instances where departments (nationally and provincially), are without a head of department, and in such instances, an employee with the requisite competencies is appointed to act in the position.

Earlier this month, the DPSA published the Public Service Amendment Bill as well as the Public Administration Management Amendment Bill for public comment.

 “One of the amendments to the Public Service Act 1994, concerns the devolution of administrative powers to Heads of Department in national and provincial departments and government components.”

Currently, Section 7 (3) (b) of the Public Service Act, states that the HOD shall be responsible for the efficient management and administration of their department.

“Great responsibility is also accorded to Heads of Department as ‘Accounting Officers’ in terms of the Public Finance Management Act and this is evidence of the critical role they play.”

The department said it is for this reason this matter deserves urgent attention.

“Executive authorities provide political leadership; whereas Heads of Department are a component of administrative leadership. For the country to develop, not only must there be public service and public servants, and any other public space component for that matter, but Heads of Department in particular must be at the forefront – putting their knowledge and skills into action, in the interests and to the benefit of the country,” said the Minister.

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