Public servants’ ethics unit up but not running – Minister Mchunu

Minister of Public Service and Administration Senzo Mchunu has told Members of Parliament in a written reply that while the department’s Public Administrations Ethics, Integrity and Disciplinary Technical Assistance Unit was established in April, the unit is not yet operational.

Mchunu announced the unit earlier this year and said it would be responsible for conducting lifestyle audits on public service employees and provide technical assistance to the department in managing the adherence of public servants to the public service code of ethics.

It was also set to develop norms and standards for the management of misconduct in the public administration.

In response to a written question from Democratic Alliance MP Leon Schreiber, Mchunu said there were currently no financial resources to get the unit operating and, as such, it had not yet conducted any disciplinary proceedings against officials. The Department of Public Service and Administration was awaiting resources to staff the unit and to allocate funds for its operations, he added.

"The Public Administration Ethics, Integrity and Disciplinary Technical Assistance Unit was established from 1 April 2019. The Unit is not fully operational and it is not adequately staffed," said Mchunu. 

"The unit is currently being incubated within the DPSA and is envisaged to be fully operational and adequately staffed by the next financial year, subject to the allocation of funds by the National Treasury." 

In a reply to a separate question, also from Scheiber, Mchunu said 29 officials were on suspension at a national level and 17 were under suspension across the nine provincial departments.

These suspensions already cost the department R26.1m in the 2019/20 financial year, according to Mchunu.