Government Plans To Retrench 30 000 Public Servants

President Cyril Ramaphosa hosting the reception dinner with businessleaders at World Economic Forum in Davos. 18/01/2017 PICTURE: Kopano Tlape, GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG: The ANC says the proposed retrenchment strategy will cut the government’s salary bill by R20 billion.

The current government of South Africa, led by President Cyril Ramaphosa, is planning to retrench 30 000 public servants in an effort to cut costs.

According to Mail & Guardian, this mass retrenchment strategy was discussed in detail by the African National Congress (ANC) during the Cabinet lekgotla earlier this week.

Lekgotla conferences have in the recent past have dropped other bombshells, including Ramaphosa’s announcement that the ANC will support an amendment to the Constitution in favour of land expropriation without compensation.

It seems that the government administration is eager to kickstart the retrenchment process, with the treasury having already set aside R4 billion intended for severance packages.

According to sources close to the matter, the proposed restructuring process is aimed at reducing the government’s salary bill by a staggering R20 billion by the year 2021.

Voluntary severance packages

It would seem an earlier announcement by the Treasury, regarding the implementation of voluntary severance packages, has failed the work, with many employees simply staying put.

This initial strategy proposed by the Treasury last year aimed to reduce the public sector wage bill, by persuading senior officials to leave their jobs with the promise of handsome severance packages. The government has now been forced to adopt a more hardline approach.

A senior ANC official who spoke to Mail & Guardian on the topic of public sector retrenchments said:

“The [voluntary] employee initiative is not working because employees are not moving. If we don’t deal with it now, even if we [re]configure departments, we will still have the same number of government employees.

So you must get rid of them so that it’s not only about reducing the strain in the form of ministers but also in the form of the number of officials. But the downside is the targeted ones are the older, senior officials.

It is done with the hope that once they exit you create a platform for youth to come in. But the youth come with no skills and capacity and therefore you compromise the capacity of the state.”

Under the current tenure of Cyril Ramaphosa, the government is undertaking a deep restructuring process aimed at cutting costs and boosting growth.

The proposed job cuts form part of this program, and will likely be implemented following next year’s General Elections.

Trade Unions fire back

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has vowed to fight the proposed job cuts tabled by the government.

Cosatu’s public-sector wage mandating chief, Mike Shingange, has argued that the union’s members will not be forced into early retirement, saying:

“We are going to make sure our members don’t agree and advise them not to accept anything. They must only retire when they are ready. We are going to mobilise all public sector unions through the federation. And at the next central executive committee meeting, the matter will have to be raised with a view of initiating a meeting with the government urgently.”

The Public Servants’ Association was forewarned of the impending retrenchments, and have rejected the proposal outright.