Public servants must ‘conform to the highest law of the land’
Public Service and Administration Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi on Friday said the public service will not allow itself "to degenerate in its moral fibre over of a few public servants who conduct themselves unprofessionally".
This came in a statement condemning "unprofessional behaviour by some public servants"‚ and appeared to be in reaction to a ministerial spokeswoman’s expletive-laden social media rant this week.
Lumka Oliphant took to Facebook on Wednesday night in defence of Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini‚ whom The Citizen had reported looked "unsteady on her feet" at a recent event‚ and suggested she appeared drunk.
"Anyone of you who wish to use this post for your articles‚ go the f*** ahead! Yes‚ the f*** ahead‚" she wrote on Facebook.
"Don’t talk s*** about her."
On Thursday‚ TMG Digital reported that Mahlodi Muofhe‚ the special adviser to Ramatlhodi‚ laid down the principles that governed the conduct of officials.
In a statement on Friday‚ Ramatlhodi reiterated those principles.
"Whether a public servant engages the public through the media or any media platform‚ his or her behaviour must conform to what the highest law in our country expects of them‚" Ramatlhodi said.
"Any public servant who transgresses this [public service] code of conduct shall be guilty of misconduct in terms of the Public Service Act‚ and will be dealt with in accordance with the relevant sections of the Public Service Act."
He urged accounting officers to enforce compliance with the code "without fear or favour and to institute disciplinary action against public servants who do not comply".
"State resources such as laptops‚ telephones‚ cellphones and even data — which are meant to execute official duties — cannot be utilised to undermine the letter and spirit of the code of conduct without any consequences‚" Ramatlhodi said.
On Thursday, Muofhe had warned against subjecting Oliphant to a public hearing as officials of government were also covered by the country’s labour laws.
He said individual departments had built in disciplinary processes that had to be followed when there were allegations against any official.
"Public servants are also covered by the Labour Relations Act. It would be improper for anyone to conduct any hearing in the public domain.... The principles of fairness demand that the disciplinary process should not be conducted in the public space‚" Muofhe said.