Wednesday, 11 May 2022 09:14

Many of SA’s senior government officials not qualified for their job.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

Government says it has made headway in reducing the number of unqualified senior managers employed in the public service, but at least one in four is still found to be lacking.

The acting minister of public service and administration, Thulas Nxesi, said during a parliamentary Q&A this week, that 25.9% of senior managers on the government’s Personnel and Salary System (Persal) do not have the requisite qualifications needed for their position.

This is down from a figure of around 35% of these managers in April 2021. The department said its systems reflect 9,309 senior managers on its payroll, with 2,412 of those being 'unqualified' as of 2022.

It stressed, however, that many may simply need to still update their information on the system.

"The Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) is monitoring the updating of Persal data and continues to remind accounting officers of the importance of maintaining this information.

"The current exercise has indicated that there might be senior managers who possess proper qualifications but such are not reflected on the system," it said.

It warned that punitive measures could be initiated against members who do not update this information, but noted that all indications are that departments are gradually making the necessary changes.

"The matter of the senior managers' or other employees' qualifications (must) be understood within the broader context of the professionalization of the public service efforts that are underway," it said.

Professionalising the public service

In December 2020, the DPSA published a draft National Implementation Framework for the professionalisation of the public service, spearheaded by the National School of Government (NSG).

The draft framework aims to create a capable, ethical and developmental public service; however, it does not see qualifications – such as diplomas, under- or post-graduate degrees and other certificates – as necessarily being the sole indicator of professionalism.

Instead, its focus is on wider skills development through training programmes and the formal recognition and acknowledgement of a public servant's experience in governance. It also has a broader focus on conduct and ethics in the public service sector.

The DPSA has previously urged all public servants to enrol in and complete an ethics course through the NSG.

Looking specifically at senior management services, a course was already developed in 2018 to train managers "in the effective and efficient functioning of the Public Service"

The course is applicable to public servants and citizens who wish to apply for a position in the SMS of the Public Service provided that certain minimum requirements, qualifications and years of experience are met.

To be a senior manager in government at level 13, candidates require an undergraduate qualification at NQF level 7 (bachelor's degree or advanced diploma) and five years’ experience at the middle management level.

For higher roles, at level 15 or 16, candidates require a postgraduate qualification at NFQ level 8 (postgraduate diploma, bachelor’s degree or honours degree) and eight years of experience at the senior management level.

The salaries for public workers at level 13 are currently set to R1,147,609 per annum, while those at level 16 earn R2,130,602.