Johannesburg – Public Service and Administration Minister Senzo Mchunu has given the state’s graft watchdog the green light to operate during the Covid-19-enforced national lockdown.
The Public Service Commission (PSC) had earlier this week told the National Assembly’s portfolio committee on public service and administration that it was not listed as an essential service, which had brought challenges including struggling to finalise complaints against errant officials.
Addressing the media on Friday on the state of readiness of the public service to resume operations following the easing of the national lockdown, Mchunu said he had written to PSC chairperson Richard Sizani in relation to the statement made by the commission’s director-general Dr Dovhani Mamphiswana at the committee meeting, that it was not listed as an essential service.
”We want to clarify that the commission is in the category of departments that are required to ensure among other things that government business continues,” Mchunu explained.
He said the commission being an essential service was the reason it appeared before the portfolio committee.
According to Mchunu, his department had clarified the matter with Sizani to enable the commission to resume its work, especially in determining on their own what was essential.
After the portfolio committee meeting, the DA raised concerns about a constitutionally-mandated oversight body like the PSC not being regarded as an essential service, and complained this could be unconstitutional.
The DA threatened to launch legal action against the decision, which it said prevented the PSC from fulfilling its oversight and anti-corruption duties.
In March, the PSC suspended the lodging of grievances and complaints through walk-ins at its national and provincial offices after the declaration of the national lockdown by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Complainants and aggrieved parties were encouraged to use alternative means to contact the commission.
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By Mayibongwe Maqhina