Tired SAs speak: Ramaphosa’s public sector promises are a joke

During his 2021 Budget Speech, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni announced that public sector wages would be frozen for the next three years. Over the past decade, South Africa’s public sector wage bill has compounded by 4% a year while the economy has only grown about 1.5%. As BizNews founder Alec Hogg describes in his article, ‘Budget 2021 – Cyril, Tito face their Maggie Thatcher moment‘, the result is that public servants receive 47c of every rand of tax collected in the country.

“Debt-to-GDP – which was just 26% in the best year of the Trevor Manuel ministry – is now at 80%,” Hogg writes. “Even in Treasury’s best case scenario (i.e. public sector wages are cut by R265bn in the next three years) it will reach 90%.”

It’s no secret that the situation is dire. Once Africa’s largest economy, South Africa is now galloping towards a massive debt crisis.

In a recent BizNews interview, Dr Azar Jammine – Director and Chief Economist of Econometrix – said that government will be forced to make changes that are unpopular with those in public service.

“You’re talking about public servant remuneration being reduced over the next three years by around 10% in real terms,” he says. “The big question – and the skepticism that is likely to follow this – is will the government be able to get such a programme through, with their alliance partners in the public sector trade unions? Who, after all, were one of the main supporting groupings behind the election of Cyril Ramaphosa as president in 2017.”

Read also: BizNews webinar with Tim Modise: Do ethics still exist in the public sector?

Barely a week after Mboweni delivered the disturbing news in Parliament, public sector unions submitted a document demanding a general salary increase of consumer inflation plus 4% for all workers. According to Reuters, the list includes better housing payment demands and a risk allowance of 12% of basic salary due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The public sector have also approached South Africa’s Constitutional Court to force National Treasury to pay the final tranche of the preceding three-year wage settlement struck in 2018. Reuters says workers received their salary hikes in the first two years, but Treasury resisted paying over R30bn for the final year starting in April 2020, claiming the hike was unaffordable.

Now, President Cyril Ramaphosa has penned a letter to the nation describing exactly how the state intends to prevent corruption and nepotism within the public service in future.

“Only a capable, efficient, ethical and development-oriented state can deliver on the commitment to improve the lives of the people of this country,” he says. “This means that the public service must be staffed by men and women who are professional, skilled, selfless and honest.” 

According to the president’s letter, public consultations have been underway on an important policy document that “aims to build a state that better serves our people, that is insulated from undue political interference and where appointments are made on merit.”

“All too often, people have been hired into and promoted to key positions for which they are neither suitable nor qualified. This affects government performance, but also contributes to nepotism, political interference in the work of departments, lack of accountability, mismanagement and corruption.”

BizNews community members aren’t optimistic about how well Ramaphosa’s “far-reaching reforms” will perform.

public sector facebook comment

It is terrible thing to say but given how this country and its people have been treated by the ruling party I genuinely have a better understanding of why ‘civil wars’ happen. The destruction is off-the-charts and while driving around Randburg yesterday and seeing scores of sad and forlorn people sitting on pavements waiting for an employment miracle, my desire to get away from this tragedy also went off-the-charts,” comments

“In other news, President Ramaphosa announced his new daily skit on Comedy Central,” says Still-MyOpinion247.

h he does, does he? We can expect action any time this decade then.”

public sector facebook comment

public service Facebook comment

hen the commies took over – South Africa was always headed towards an economic crisis!”

till talking rather than doing. Get on with it.”

Read also: Debt must be tackled through reform before it’s too late – DA

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