President Jacob Zuma wants the government to do away with suspending lazy, incompetent and corrupt public servants “with pay”, and he intends to twist Cosatu’s arm to agree to the changing of laws.

Pres. Zuma – who was expected to convene a cabinet lekgotla at the weekend to tackle economic and political hurdles facing his administration amid expectations from voters – argued that red tape and lengthy disciplinary processes had negatively affected the state’s ability to provide services.

Pres. Zuma’s party spokesman, Zizi Kodwa, said the president expected the cabinet lekgotla to discuss how to accelerate the bureaucratic machinery, admitting that people on the ground were getting impatient.

Mr. Kodwa said Zuma believed some public servants were suspended for long periods, with others “moonlighting” during suspensions.

While the public servants, in the case of senior officials, were on suspension, the acting employees were unable to sign or authorise any programmes or contracts, thus affecting the government’s ability to function properly.

Mr. Kodwa said this was the reason why the president wanted the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) to be amended, and other bureaucratic rules to be changed to make it easier to get rid of lazy and incompetent public servants.

During his campaign trail leading up to last year’s elections, Zuma said his government would not tolerate lazy public servants.

However, he realised on assuming office that it was not easy to dismiss officials under current rigid labour and other laws.

“The view of the president is that he is taking his call of changing how government delivers services and the turnaround time very seriously, because the government is very slow.

“Those in government who are found to be inefficient or can’t meet key performance you can’t get rid of because they hide behind the rules.

“Some of them will be suspended for a long time with full pay. An acting person cannot sign in terms of the PFMA. Some people will even go on suspension and moonlight.

When they come back (to work), they want revenge against those who have participated in the investigations.

“This affects the capacity of government and stability of municipalities,” Mr. Kodwa said.

“The President wants the will of government to move faster. We must change the rules and regulations which make it impossible to remove people who cannot perform.”

Mr. Kodwa said some public servants hid “behind the unions”, and Pres. Zuma would approach the ANC’s labour ally Cosatu to discuss his desire to change the rules.

“We must engage in bilateral talks between Cosatu and other unions, and if we agree that we need to deal with lazy and corrupt individuals, we must short-circuit the process of dealing with these issues,” said Mr. Kodwa.

However, Pres Zuma could find himself on a collision course with the unions.

An angry Cosatu-affiliated Municipal Workers Union last week urged Pres Zuma to apologise for saying its members in local government should not hold positions in the political parties.

Cosatu Spokesman Patrick Craven said the federation would only comment once it had seen Pres Zuma’s proposal.

Source:, 20100118

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