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Public Administration Laws General Amendment Bill Tabled

August 23, 2021

Parliament

The Public Administration Laws General Amendment Bill has been tabled in parliament.

The private member’s bill was drawn up by Dr. Leon Schreiber, a Democratic Alliance member of parliament.

The bill was published for comment in Government Gazette 44383 in April 2021.

According to the explanatory summary, as a result of political interference in public administration, which manifests in the “appointment of public servants and other officials on the basis of political loyalty rather than on the basis of demonstrated merit, South Africa’s public service is collapsing under the weight of corruption and a lack of skills”.

Dr Schreiber also points out that the “type of destructive political interference exposed by the Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture is possible because the Public Service Act, 1994 (Proclamation 103 of 1994) provides for the President, Ministers, Premiers and Members of the Executive Council to be closely involved in the career incidents of public service servants, including appointment, promotion and dismissal, without enforcing the need for appointments to be based on demonstrated merit”.

He adds that the Draft Framework towards the Professionalisation of the Public Service, published for comment in December 2020, while correctly identifying the problem, proposes reforms that are “ironically not decisive enough”.

“The amendments contained in this Bill addresses the shortcoming of the Framework by introducing the appropriately decisive reforms called for in the Framework.”

The bill seeks to give the Public Service Commission the “powers and human resources that will enable it to ensure merit-based recruitment throughout the public service”.

The bill aims to amend:

• the Public Service Act, 1994, so as to insert and delete definitions; to provide for the duty to report to the Commission when an executive authority or head of department acts on a direction of the Commission; to provide that special service benefits to heads of departments are not permissible on dismissal of a head of department; to provide for clarity in respect of directions and recommendations made by the Commission; to provide for the limitation of political rights under certain circumstances; to remove the Commission from the ambit of the Public Service Act, 1994 (Proclamation No. 103 of 1994);
• the Public Service Commission Act, 1997, so as to insert and amend definitions; to elucidate the power of the Commission to give directions related to recruitment, transfers, promotions and dismissals; to grant the Commission the power to take remedial action; to provide for the Office of the Commission, its human resources, administration and management; to provide for delegations by the executive authority; and
• the Public Administration Management Act, 2014, so as to require the Minister to obtain the concurrence of the executive authority of the Public Service Commission in respect of a directive to be applicable to the Office of the Public Service Commission; and
• to provide for matters connected therewith.