Government’s ambitious plan to make President Mokgweetsi Masisi a jobs president has turned into a comedy of errors and the only operational law seems to be Murphy’s Law: Everything that can go wrong is going wrong.
In the latest gaffe, the Department of Public Service Management (DPSM) jumped the gun last week and instructed departments to cancel overtime allowances, before the task team assigned to come up with recommendations on how to reduce the public service wage bill and cut back on allowances could present its report.
In a total thumb-suck, government last week instructed its ministries and departments to cancel overtime allowance before the task force could present the outcome of its report. The ink on the savingram had hardly dried when government issued another savingram climbing down from its decision allegedly following pressure from public officers.
In a savingram dated 25 April 2018 addressed to Government Ministries and Departments, acting director of DPSM Tefo Bogosi, confirmed that Government has agreed to budget for the continued payment of overtime allowances during the current (2018/19) financial year to public employees on the basis of hours worked, in line with existing guidelines for such payments.’
The savingram further states that in the context of the “above decision, it may be further noted that the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development has recalled an earlier correspondence by one of its departments, which had implied that overtime allowances would no longer be paid.”
“The Ministry of Finance and Development will reactivate the overtime vote to enable processing of payments and Ministries are hereby allowed to re-prioritise and vire funds within the approved budgets to accommodate payment of overtime. Such virements should not exceed ministerial limits approved by the estimates committee during the budget process for 2018/19,” reads Bogosi’s savingram in part.
Bogosi’s savingram follows the Director of Department of Social Protection E Kgotlhang addressed to all district commissioners and hospital superintendents informing some government departments of the government’s decision to cancel overtime allowances.
“This communication serves to confirm that there will be no overtime allowance payable in the financial year 2018/19. This is a government initiative which applies to all departments in the civil service. Overtime worked will be compensated by off days,” reads the savingram.
The DPSM plan was believed to be part of a bigger campaign to make President Mokgweetsi Masisi a jobs president by implementing a massive cut back on civil service allowances in a bid to create more sustainable jobs on a limited budget.
A report leaked to the Sunday Standard has revealed that the task team which was also charged with investigating the cause of overtime in the civil service has recommended that the DPSM should create new posts.
Public Servants were of the view that the government lacks capacity to set its priorities right because the 3 percent salary adjustment for this financial was insufficient to cushion them from inflation.
Presidential Affairs Minister Nonofo Molefhi was quoted as saying that Cabinet agreed to revert to the status quo in terms of overtime pay for public officers while all factors were still being considered to find a lasting solution to the issue.
Molefhi said the issue of overtime had been a thorn in the flesh for government for some sometime now. He said government spent over P500 million on overtime which he said was unsustainable. He said government would establish whether or not the overtime was due to shortage of staff or nature of some jobs and come up with relevant remedies in consultation with public sector unions.