The Minister of Public Service and Administration, Senzo Mchunu, says government needs to employ more civil servants to improve service delivery in the country. At the same time, Mchunu says there is still a need to reduce the Public Service Wage Bill.

Tabling the budget earlier this year, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said this needed to be cut by R160 billion over the next three years.

Reducing the size of the public service was a key feature of the National Budget tabled by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni in February.

But a lot has changed since then.

The COVID- 19 pandemic has forced government to go back to the drawing board and revise its priorities. Exactly how much things have changed will become clearer when the Finance Minister tables a new budget later this month.

Nevertheless, the Minister of Public Service and Administration, Senzo Mchunu, says reducing the Public Sector Wage Bill remains government’s objective.

“If nothing gets done in relation to the wage bill, you are going to be hitting the wall somewhere in the near future, if you haven’t already. And I think having come to this conclusion before COVID-19, the situation has actually worsened.”

At the same time, Mchunu says staff shortages in various government departments cannot be ignored.

“There are complaints all over. If you go health, there are complaints that there are no replacements for those who retire or lease service for whatever reason and it’s getting more and more unworkable. In education as well, there is a shortage and in the police, there is a shortage.”

According to Minister Mchunu, the situation has reached worrying proportions.

“If we stay as we do and we don’t employ more public servants to service the public, the state’s core service to the citizens is going to be a problem to a point where the citizens of the country will start complaining bitterly that they are being half serviced or not serviced at all by the state, including the state’s own core services that make up any legitimacy for any government to exist … that it must do one, two and three at least. So, we have to navigate this situation very carefully, especially in relation to services guaranteed by the state in terms of the constitution.”

The challenge for government will be cutting the Public Sector Wage Bill, and increasing the head count, where necessary, at the same. Author- Mbongeni Muthwa