DA achieves breakthrough in battle to trim Ministerial Handbook

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has achieved a significant victory in our ongoing battle to trim the wasteful excesses of the Ministerial Handbook. As a result of sustained pressure from the DA, the Minister for Public Service and Administration on Thursday announced during his budget speech that President Ramaphosa has appointed an inter-ministerial committee, composed of the finance, public works and public service and administration ministers, to review the Ministerial Handbook.

The minister specifically noted the lack of limits on spending on luxury vehicles and excessive spending on security upgrades. Minister Mchunu further referred to the current version of the Handbook as an “old-new” version – a public admission that nothing has changed and that wasteful spending on luxuries continues unabated despite the recent adoption of the so-called “revised” handbook.

This comes after weeks of sustained pressure from the DA in the parliamentary committee. During the first meeting of the committee last week, the DA had called on the minister to present and accept recommendations from the committee on how to cut wastage. The chairperson ultimately agreed, and at the next meeting, we will urge that the national Ministerial Handbook be brought in-line with the Handbook used in the DA-led Western Cape.

The Western Cape, which introduced its own, streamlined Handbook in 2011, has consistently been rated as the best-run government in South Africa. In the Western Cape, ministers even need permission from the Public Works department before they are allowed to pick flowers from the gardens of official residences. The Western Cape proves that it is not necessary to spend millions of rands on luxuries in order for ministers to do their jobs. Please see attached table for a comparison between the national Handbook and the Western Cape Handbook.

Although the DA welcomes the minister’s admission that the “old-new” handbook introduced no savings and is even more inappropriate in the current context of economic crisis, we are deeply concerned at the haphazard way in which the government is handling this important issue. President Ramaphosa recently signed-off on the “revised” Handbook, which was published on 8 June 2019, but only a month later he wants to revise it again.

The chaotic way in which the government is handling this matter indicates a worrying lack of leadership and coordination from the President, and suggests that he did not pay close attention when approving the “old-new” version just one month ago.

The DA will do everything in our power to make sure that, this time around, the Ministerial Handbook is treated with urgency and is significantly trimmed. Using the example set by the Western Cape, we will push for strict spending limits on vehicles, for ministers and deputies to fly economy class, to avoid stays in expensive 5 star hotels, to halve the number of ministerial support staff, and to completely eliminate the current provision that grants former ministers a lifetime of business class flights.

There is also no reason for this process to drag on indefinitely. After the first Handbook was adopted in 2007, the DA fought for 12 years to have it reviewed. The DA will thus propose in the parliamentary committee that a significantly trimmed new Handbook must go into full effect within no more than three months. The DA and the public are tired of waiting. Public money should be used to create prosperity for the people, not to buy Porsches for politicians.

Ramaphosa has the power to sanction Ministers who waste public funds on bloated private offices

With the increasing cost of living, a stagnant economy, and almost 10 million unemployed South Africans, the packed private offices of the failing ANC- led government is set to cost R1.2 billion per annum by 2020/21.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has repeatedly promised to address government excesses, yet he has failed to address this issue with any seriousness.

By immediately signing the revised Ministerial Handbook, President Ramaphosa can ensure those who do not adhere to the stipulated 10 people per private office are held to account and properly sanctioned.

While Minister of Public Service and Administration, Ayanda Dlodlo, has written to President Cyril Ramaphosa to intervene in the number of people appointed to Minister’s private offices, she too must be held to account given that she took a similar stance when she was Minister of Home Affairs.

Between October 2017 and February 2018, Minister Dlodlo’s private office at Home Affairs contained 16 employees instead of the 10 allowed and this cost the public more than R11 million.

The Ministerial Handbook currently recommends that Ministers’ offices be limited to 10. However, Ministers such as former Minister of Public Service and Administration, Faith Muthambi, who had 26 people in her office, have blatantly ignored this.

These actions clearly show that the ANC is not sympathetic to the plight of many South Africans but only driven by the desire to advance their own motives of cronyism.

The daily struggle to put food on the table is only getting harder, with millions not able to do this. South Africans should not be forced to tighten their belt when the ANC government is seemingly doing the exact opposite and passing the cost on to ordinary citizens.

Malusi Gigaba must set an example when it comes to belt-tightening in SA

The Minister of Finance, Malusi Gigaba, who is responsible for implementing cost containment measures, and who is likely to announce tax increases given the massive budget hole, should be setting an example when it comes to belt-tightening in South Africa.
However, it has now emerged that more than R500 000, including a mindboggling R13 000-plus daily allowance has been blown on international travel for the minister’s spouse, Norma Gigaba, who has no official role during the minister’s official visits.
What this means is that, assuming the current rate of travel, taxpayers will blow R2.25 million on Norma Gigaba’s international travel by the next election in 2019.
The fact is that, even if all the expenses were in line with the Ministerial Handbook, it is simply wrong, especially when 30.4 million people live in poverty, and battle to put bread on the table, in South Africa.
I will, therefore, propose amendments to the guidelines regulating official international travel, which are set out in the Ministerial Handbook: Handbook for Members of the Executive and Presiding Officers, and which apply to members of the executive in South Africa.

DA to probe Gigaba's bloated private office at National Treasury

The Minister of Finance, Malusi Gigaba, claims there is no truth to the suggestion that he has centralized power in his private office and that all appointments in his private office are in accordance with the Ministerial Handbook.
However, the Ministerial Handbook: A Handbook for Members of the Executive and Presiding Officers is clear:
• The core staff of the private office of the minister may comprise of ten staff members including Chief of Staff of the Ministry, Administrative Secretary, Media Liaison Officer, Private Secretary/Appointments Secretary, Assistant Appointments and Administrative Secretary, Parliamentary Officer, Secretary/Receptionist, Registry Clerk and Aide or Driver/Messenger; and
• More importantly, the organizational structure of the private office must be determined after consultation with the Minister of Public Service and Administration and in terms of Public Service Regulations.
The minister reportedly brought in 17 new staff members, and took over five existing staff members from his predecessor, bringing the total staff complement of his private office to 22, which appears to be far in excess of the ten posts provided for in the Ministerial Handbook.
I will, therefore, be submitting parliamentary questions probing claims that the minister has set up what amounts to an “imperial finance ministry” by requesting him to provide information on:
• The total number of staff members employed in his private office;
• The names, designations, job descriptions and salary levels of each staff member in his private office; and
• Most importantly, whether, and when, the organizational structure of his private office was approved by the Minister of Public Service and Administration.
We simply cannot afford a “civil war” between the Presidency, the Ministry of Finance and National Treasury ahead of the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement on 25 October 2017 in Parliament.

Muthambi must be investigated by ethics committee for gross misconduct

The revelations today that the Minister of Public Service and Administration, Faith Muthambi, has allegedly hired 27 support staff to her office, in what seems to be a case of nepotism, must be investigated by Parliament’s Joint Committee on Ethics and Members’ Interests.
Reports today claim that Minister Muthambi allegedly appointed mostly uncles and cousins from her home province, Limpopo,  as drivers, deputy directors, and a “food services aide” in her office without following due procedure.
The DA’s members on Parliament’s Joint Committee on Ethics and Members’ Interests will now take up this matter when the Committee meets on Tuesday, 15 August 2017.
If these allegations are true, Minister Muthambi possibly breached the Ministerial Handbook.
Chapter 8 of the Handbook clearly states that a Minister can appoint up to 10 individuals when establishing Private Offices. Furthermore, Annexure F of the Ministerial Handbook states that Ministers can only appoint two full-time Special Advisors.
Even more disturbing, are the allegations that the Minister allegedly stripped the Director General of the Department of Public Service and Administration, Mashwahle Diphofa, of his powers to appoint staff.
It is now becoming clear that Minister Muthambi is up to her old tricks again and that she bending the rules to give herself excessive power to do as she pleases.
This, despite the fact that she is the Minister of the department which is responsible for administering norms in the public sector and ensuring the ethical behaviour of public servants.
These allegations follow reports of her most recent scandal in which the Minister allegedly paid nearly half a million rand in public money for her family members to travel to Cape Town to watch her budget vote speech.
The South African government is an institution which must provide equal opportunities for every South African citizen – not just Minister Muthambi’s family and loved ones.

Bloated Public Administration serves ANC cadres, not the public

Note to Editors: The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by DA Shadow Minister of Public Service and Administration, Desiree van der Walt MP, during the Budget Vote on Public Service and Administration.
Honourable Chair and Colleagues,
Today I would like to honour the thousands of hard working and dedicated public servants striving to do their jobs, those servants who are not captured but try to deliver services to the South African public.
Minister Muthambi, today marks the 55th day since your appointment to this Department.
Yet, you have made no effort to attend any of the Portfolio Committee meetings or the two-day workshop which dealt with the Department of Public Service and Administration’s (DPSA) Annual Performance Plans (APP) and Budget.
You were, however, very quick to start spending money by hosting two Imbizos – one on your 29th day in office and a second on your 35th day in office, at an estimated R1.3 million.
You were even quicker to start building your personal empire.
I am not sure if you have seen this document referred to as the Ministerial Handbook with specific reference to Chapter 8 before?
It states that you are allowed a total of 10 posts in your Private Office Staff Compliment, not 22.
However, Minister, you have never been one to adhere to rules. As you have shown time after time, you have an utter disregard for your oath of office and the Executive Ethics Code.
Was it really necessary to re-staff DPSA with your cadres? Clearly, we all know the answer to this.
In the ANC, blind loyalty is rewarded, especially the blind loyalty to corruption and ineffectiveness.
I suggest that you prioritise the following on your reading list:
• The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa;
• The Ministerial Handbook;
• The Austerity Measures Document of National Treasury;
• Treasury Regulations; and
• Public Finance Management Act (PFMA).
Please note that according to Chapter 10 of the Constitution of South Africa, this Department must be governed by 9 democratic values and principles which includes:
• The efficient, economic and effective use of resources must be promoted;
• Services must be provided impartially, fairly, equitably and without bias;
• People’s needs must be responded to; and
• Public administration must be accountable.
Public administration must be broadly representative of the South African people, with employment and personnel management practices based on ability, objectivity, fairness and the need to redress the imbalances of the past to achieve broad representation.
South Africa’s bloated Cabinet is amongst the worlds largest in relation to the size of its population. Obviously President Zuma’s massive Cabinet has a direct correlation with the massive size of our Public Sector Wage Bill.
The Public Sector Wage Bill is reflective of the growth of the Executive – as increasingly more government posts and entities must be created to support a bloated executive structure.
This is problematic because it is one of government’s biggest expenditure items. The ANC-led government allocated more than R550 billion to public sector wages for the 2017/18 financial year.
This means that the public wage bill, which amounted to 5% of total government expenditure in 1994, has swelled to 43% of total government expenditure in 2017.
The government headcount has finally levelled off at around 1.32 million staff‚ but wage growth remains spectacular compared to the private sector.
Should the upcoming wage negotiations, which are to be conducted later this year‚ be concluded at similar agreements to previous years‚ it could definitely add further risk to the fiscal outlook.
Minister it will be useful for you to examine the details of the wage settlements since the 2015/16 financial year which has already resulted in a total average increase of 11.5% per employee.
The total increase in the wage bill over the past 3 years is an absolutely shocking R77.3 billion. Let that sink in, R77.3 billion- this money could certainly be spent in a better place.
We literally have people who are dying of hunger in our country, we have people living on the streets and 9 million South Africans are unemployed. Surely there must be a better way to spend this extravagant amount?
Wave after wave of above-inflation pay hikes for public sector employees, particularly in ministries which provide very little public benefit, is simply not sustainable nor is it justifiable.
As part of your Department’s 38 Annual Targets, you have to develop proposals for the next round of salary negotiations.
What criteria will you use to ensure it is sustainable and that it will enhance service delivery to the people especially the poorest communities in South Africa?
Yet, the ANC government even with its bloated public service, has failed miserably to provide basic services to our people.
But there is hope. When the DA takes over the Union Buildings in 2019, we will ensure that there is service delivery for every single citizen in our country by reducing public administration to make it more efficient and therefore freeing up money for service delivery.
Our new reshuffled Minister has an utter disregard for money and has very little regard for austerity measures.
After being moved around from one department to another, when will we finally be able to consider this Minister’s mischief managed?
The DA has absolutely no Faith in Minister Muthambi.
Thank you.