Staff of the Department of Local Government was absent from work for an equivalent of 14 years in 2011.

This shocking information was tabled in a report to the Portfolio Committee of Local Government and Traditional Affairs in the Bhisho Legislature last week. For the report, click here.

Sick leave

A total of 5 125 sick days were taken between 1 January 2011 to 31 December 2011, costing the department R4, 926 million.

Of the 5 125 sick days taken in 2011, 4 417 or 86% of the sick leave was amassed by skilled and managerial employees which equates to a cost of R961 per day per employee.

This answer was in response to questions raised by myself at the meeting.

On behalf of the Democratic Alliance I will be raising this issue in a speech to the next plenary session in the Legislature in December and will be publicly asking the MEC for Local Government, Mlibo Qoboshiyane, why there is such a high sick rate and to supply details of how effective wellness plans are being rolled out in the department.

Furthermore I will early next year be requesting the portfolio committee to mandate that a thorough investigation be done as to what is causing the high levels of absenteeism and a review of effective wellness polices to be implemented in the department to radically reduce this problem.

In addition, the report states that all other leave taken by employees was not accurately recorded by the accounting officer.

Of further concern is that of the 3 329 posts available in the department only 1 593 were filled during the year, resulting in the department operating on a vacancy rate of 52 %.

With local government in crisis in this province it is unacceptable that the department has a high absenteeism rate which in turn delays crucial service delivery to communities.