The public service is in crisis. Workers have had to deal with doing their jobs under the threat of Covid-19 and they have had to fight against long-standing promises to cut the public-sector wage bill.
Organised labour has accused Senzo Mchunu of being an absentee leader and the relationship between unions and the minister has deteriorated over the past year.
The government plans to freeze public-sector wages for the next three years, a prospect which has angered labour even further.
Despite the goodwill it has garnered during the Covid-19 pandemic — thanks in large part to the nurses, doctors and teachers who have risked their lives to continue to serve citizens — the public sector has developed a bad reputation.
It has faced allegations of being unproductive and of enabling corruption. Public servants came under scrutiny during the Covid-19 corruption scandal; it was found that by the end of April 1 539 public servants were conducting business with the state.
Part of the department’s mandate is to deal with disciplinary matters. Its failure to do so in the past has meant that accused public officials are still being paid as they wait for their disciplinary hearings. The department has taken steps to make sure it can do this part of its work better by training ethics officers to assess allegations, collect sufficient evidence and draft affidavits.