The KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Department of Social Development has come out fighting accusing the Democratic alliance of hypocrisy following revelations that ten officials were being paid while they had been suspended pending disciplinary hearings.
DA spokesperson on social development Elma Rabe said the department had indicated in a response to parliamentary questions that R7,4 million had been paid to ten officials during their suspension. Two of the officials had been suspended on full pay for around five years.
KZN Social Development spokesperson, Mhlaba Memela, said Rabe’s statement included a “gross distortion of facts…misleading the public regarding the suspension of officials.”
“The year 2020 has been a very difficult one for every sector, since the whole world was hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. The KZN Department of Social Development also lost a number of employees and some had to be off work, sometimes for lengthy periods,” Memela said.
“As for the two who have been suspended for a longer period, MEC Nonhlanhla Khoza did mention in her 2021/22 budget speech that there has been instability in the department after some employees were suspended for longer periods, without any tangible reasons,” he said.
Memela said the two officials who were suspended five years ago had been dismissed and were no longer being paid, although they had taken their cases to arbitration.
Memela said that when Khoza joined the department she had instructed the Head of Department to investigate the issue as it was causing instability and draining the fiscus.
“Some of these officials have returned to work and some of the cases are currently under review. Regarding the senior managers who are currently facing disciplinary cases, it would be difficult to say when the matter will be finalised, but the department is doing its utmost best to ensure it is finalised quickly,” he said.
“However, taking into consideration the labour laws of this country, which guarantee employee rights, it is important that the Department should be extra careful, so as to avoid legal challenges and stifling worker rights,” he added.
He said it was “hypocritical” of the DA to have asked for the information and then used it for their political gain with gross misrepresentation of facts.