Critical vacancies in Eastern Cape provincial departments need to be filled as a matter of urgency, as these posts are related to service delivery and are vital in the execution of the departments’ respective mandates.
In response to a parliamentary question, Premier Oscar Mabuyane said there are currently 2536 posts that have been identified as critical posts. He also said vacant posts should be filled within six months of being vacant.
Waiting half a year to fill a position that has been deemed as a critical vacancy shows a complete lack of urgency if we want to speed up service delivery.
Last week the Premier reiterated that all critical vacancies in the province must be processed through the Provincial Co-Ordinating and Monitoring Team (PCMT), which resides in his office, to curb unnecessary expenditure.
In his response, the Premier explained that critical vacancies, however, are documented in the Annual Recruitment Plans of the Departments and are professional, technical or specialist posts, which are on the current organograms, and have been identified as being crucial to ensure the functionality of the Department’s core mandate.
[see IQP 7 qq 141]
The Democratic Alliance believes that we need to prioritise the filling of these vacancies, and cut back unnecessary non-core expenditure, as well as any unnecessary posts. The rising Cost of Employment in the province is of grave concern.
The wage bill for the financial year 2019/20 is R54,1-billion, which equates to 65.7% of the total budget, and is an increase of R2,9-billion compared to the previous financial year. This is 5.7% above the targeted cost of employment, and is, by far, the single biggest cost driver in the province.
National Treasury’s announcement that we need to cut back on expenditure up to 7% over the next three years, makes it even more crucial for a review of staffing structures across all departments.
I will be writing to the Premier to propose that the work of the PCMT be focused on strategic cost cutting measures.
Cutting back on unnecessary posts, reviewing salary structures and benefits, and setting key skills requirements are all ways that the PCMT would be better utilised.
This will require strong leadership and sound decision-making. If we fail, service delivery will continue to slide in the Eastern Cape.
It’s time Government stops dragging its heels and makes the tough decisions.