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Third of senior government employees in South Africa are not qualified – here are the worst departments

Around 35% of senior managers in government do not have the necessary qualifications or credentials for their position.

This was revealed by the Minister of Public Service and Administration Senzo Mchunu in a written response to a parliamentary question posed by the Democratic Alliance.

Senior managers in South African government require at least an NQF Level 7 qualification, which is equal to a Bachelor’s Degree or Advanced Diploma.

According to information captured in government’s Personal and Salary System (PERSAL) as of 15 February 2021, however, there were no records of such qualifications for 3,301 of the 9,477 senior managers in the public service.

According to a breakdown of the information provided, 5,447 of government’s senior managers operated at national level.

Of these, 1,987 did not have a record of a suitable qualification.

Worryingly, the largest number of those were in the police department, which accounted for 228 unqualified senior managers.

It was followed closely by the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform, and Rural Development with 227.

The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, meanwhile, had 189 senior management employees without a record of the necessary qualifications.

The table below shows the number of unqualified senior managers working in each national department.

DepartmentSenior managers without needed qualifications
Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development227
Arts and Culture1
Basic Education5
Civilian Secretariat for the Police Service11
Communication and Digital Technologies17
Cooperative Governance34
Correctional Services67
Employment and Labour79
Environment, Forestry and Fisheries107
Government Communication and Information System8
Higher Education and Training52
Home Affairs56
Human Settlement46
Independent Police Investigative Directorate9
International Relations and Cooperation81
Justice and Constitutional Development189
Military Veterans4
Mineral Resources and Energy31
National School of Government10
National Treasury64
Office of the Chief Justice10
Office of the Public Service Commission15
Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation16
Public Enterprises22
Public Service and Administration32
Public Works and Infrastructure67
Science and Innovation44
Small Business Development15
Social Development39
Sports, Arts and Culture22
Statistics South Africa24
The Presidency17
Trade, Industry and Competition128
Traditional Affairs7
Water and Sanitation78
Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities20

Mchunu further revealed that 1,314 out of 4,028 senior managers at provincial government departments did not have the required qualifications.

Gauteng accounted for the highest number among the provinces, with 381 senior managers lacking the necessary qualifications for their jobs.

Notably, the largest number of these were in the Health department.

Gauteng was followed by KwaZulu-Natal – which had 246 unqualified senior managers – and the Eastern Cape – with 185 unqualified senior managers.

The table below shows the number of senior managers with qualifications below NQF Level 7.

DepartmentSenior managers without needed qualifications
Eastern Cape185
Free State127
Western Cape45
North West27
Northern Cape18

South Africa won’t survive cadre deployment

The DA’s Michele Clarke has said the party will ask Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) to investigate the matter.

She pointed out that some of the departments worst impacted were essential to the country’s economic and food security, and blamed the lack of qualified managers on cadre deployment by the ANC.

Clarke said the ANC regarded its political placements as more important than good governance and the well-being of South Africans.

According to Clarke, middle management positions in national government typically paid between R779,802 and R922,750 per year. Senior management earn between R1,078,267 and R1,974,067 per year, depending on their level of employment.

“South Africa won’t survive if this trend of cadre deployment continues much longer,” Clarke said.

“Ordinary South Africans have suffered under this corruption en masse for years and unless urgent action is taken the country will devolve into the banana republic some already view us as,” Clarke said.

Clarke added that the DA’s Public Administration Laws General Amendment Bill aimed to ensure that civil servants were appointed purely on merit and not political loyalty .

The Bill has been published in the government gazette for public comment.

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