Former public service and administration minister Faith Muthambi denies that she signed off wage agreements without mandates during her tenure. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER
Former public service and administration minister Faith Muthambi denies that she signed off wage agreements without mandates during her tenure. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER

Former public service and administration minister Faith Muthambi has challenged finance minister Tito Mboweni to prove that she is responsible for the public sector’s unmanageable wage bill.

In a strongly worded statement Muthambi denied she signed wage agreements without mandates during her tenure as minister.

Mboweni on Wednesday blamed Muthambi and her predecessor Richard Baloyi for the huge and unmanageable public sector wage bill, saying they signed wage agreements outside their mandates. He said the two former ministers should be held accountable for “getting us into this mess”.

Muthambi wants Mboweni to apologise to the nation for “peddling lies and explain what path he is crawling on”, and accuses the finance minister of grossly misrepresenting facts to the point of being irresponsible.

“Had the minister taken time off his busy social schedule to read the agreement on the salary adjustments and improvements on conditions of service in the public service, he would have not only found out who the signatories were at the time to blame, but also discharged his duties with integrity and do justice to the office he occupies,” she said.

“It is clear that there is an absence of the minister’s eyes and ears, and his lack of consultation has possessed him to utter such a defamatory and irresponsible statement to the nation.”

Muthambi said a statement dated June 8 2018, issued by Mboweni’s cabinet colleague, Ayanda Dlodlo, in welcoming the conclusion of the wage negotiations, said, “as government we are glad that we have reached another multiterm agreement”.

“Minister Dlodlo thanked all the parties for working hard to ensure that this agreement is negotiated in the best interests of all public servants and the public at large.”

Muthambi said she wanted to put it on record that the wage agreement was entered into long after her term as minister.

Muthambi, who like Mboweni is an ANC MP, wants the minister to “stop his verbal diarrhoea and being hell-bent on playing the blame games” and start applying his mind on how he can better contribute to SA rather than boosting his “pompous ego”.

Mboweni said on Wednesday if the state is to achieve its cost-cutting targets it will need additional measures in excess of R150bn over the next three years, or about R50bn a year. Most of the cuts will focus on the wage bill.

The finance minister said that slashing the wage bill does not necessarily mean cutting the number of “warm bodies”. It is about dealing with the level of compensation, he said.

makinanaa@businesslive.co.za