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Eastern Cape pays over R162-million to officials on extended sick leave, some for over six years

Sep 19, 2017
Eastern Cape pays over R162-million to officials on extended sick leave, some for over six years

The Eastern Cape has forked out over R162-million to pay civil servants, who have been on extended sick leave for years. Of the total of 396 ailing officials, seven have been on extended sick leave for more than six years, the Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Eastern Cape revealed on Tuesday. 

"We need warm bodies at work, not bodies languishing in warm beds.  It is time to press the reset button in the province.  A DA-run provincial government will make sure that access to a government job is not an easy opportunity to just earn a salary," said Bobby Stevenson, the DA's Eastern Cape Shadow MEC for Finance.

He said that according to a reply to a legislature question that he asked Eastern Cape Premier Phumulo Masualle, 208 civil servants were not at work for more than three months, 95 for over six months, 37 for over a year, 21 for two years, and a further 21 for over three years. 

"Five officials had been sick for over four years, two officials for more than five years and seven for over six years."

For the reply, click here.

"The Premier made the telling observation in his reply that 'relevant supervisors are not acting on absenteeism for long periods of time' and employees 'just stay at home for as long as they wish without any discipline'," Stevenson added. 

"The DA believes that, in a well-run province, good governance is necessary by ensuring that government officials sign performance agreements and that their performance is monitored regularly.  There must be consequences for poor performance. 

"In our province, where there is a crying need for so much, we cannot afford waste a single cent."

He said that the highest number of sick officials were in the Department of Education, totalling 278. 

"Of this total, 198 had been extended sick leave for more than three months, 46 for more than six months, 12 for over a year, 18 for between two and five years and four people for more than six years.  This cost an estimated R83,9-million in salaries," Stevenson added. 

"In the Department of Health, a total of 72 officials had been on extended sick leave for between three months and over six years.  Salaries paid to these persons was estimated at R55-million. 

"No officials were on extended sick leave in the Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism, in the Department of Safety and Liaison or in the Provincial Treasury. 

"This begs the question as to why some departments can get their staff administration right while other departments cannot?" 

Stevenson said that roadshows about human resource management are not going to fix this problem. 

"Accounting officers and their HR-managers must be held accountable... It is time for the Premier to crack the whip."