Public service & administration minister Senzo Mchunu. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA
Public service & administration minister Senzo Mchunu. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA

Taxpayers have paid more than R85m in salaries to suspended employees who are sitting at home waiting for their cases to be concluded, public service & administration minister Senzo Mchunu said on Thursday.

The real costs are much higher, however, as Mchunu's information did not include statistics from Gauteng and Mpumalanga, which had not been submitted to his department, he said.

The total cost  also did not include statistics from the department of justice & constitutional development, the department of rural development & land reform, the department of women, youth and people with disabilities, and Stats SA — despite letters sent to them requesting statistics.

The high figures spent on employees sitting at home for allegations of various discretions does not augur well for the government which is trying to cut back on spending. Finance minister Tito Mboweni announced in February plans to slash the public sector wage bill by more than R160bn over the next three years, a decision described by unions as a “declaration of war”.

The subsequent resolution by the government not to implement a standing wage agreement for public servants in April is now subject to court and arbitration proceedings.

Mchunu said in a written parliamentary reply on Thursday that a whopping R74m of the R85m was spent by provincial governments, while national departments spent just more than R11.4m on suspended officials since April 2018.

He said 458 government employees were suspended with full pay.

Mchunu's reply shows that 187 of them worked for national departments, with cases involving 103 of them finalised while 84 were still pending. The total cost of suspensions for national departments was R11.4m, said Mchunu.

He said there were 271 employees suspended with full pay at provincial departments. Of those cases, only 41 had been finalised while 230 were pending.

The total cost of precautionary suspensions for provincial departments was R74,068,656.

The cost of suspension is calculated as paid salaries while the employee is on precautionary suspension,” said Mchunu.

Mchunu was responding to a question from DA MP Leon Schreiber, who wanted to know details on the number of employees who are suspended with full pay and the amount the government was spending on salaries for public service employees on suspensions since April 1 2018.

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