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.

Department Senior managers without needed qualifications
Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development 227
Arts and Culture 1
Basic Education 5
Civilian Secretariat for the Police Service 11
Communication and Digital Technologies 17
Cooperative Governance 34
Correctional Services 67
Education 1
Employment and Labour 79
Environment, Forestry and Fisheries 107
Government Communication and Information System 8
Health 56
Higher Education and Training 52
Home Affairs 56
Human Settlement 46
Independent Police Investigative Directorate 9
International Relations and Cooperation 81
Justice and Constitutional Development 189
Military Veterans 4
Mineral Resources and Energy 31
National School of Government 10
National Treasury 64
Office of the Chief Justice 10
Office of the Public Service Commission 15
Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation 16
Police 228
Public Enterprises 22
Public Service and Administration 32
Public Works and Infrastructure 67
Science and Innovation 44
Small Business Development 15
Social Development 39
Sports, Arts and Culture 22
Statistics South Africa 24
The Presidency 17
Tourism 23
Trade, Industry and Competition 128
Traditional Affairs 7
Transport 25
Water and Sanitation 78
Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities 20
Total 1,987

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.

Department Senior managers without needed qualifications
Gauteng 381
Kwazulu-Natal 246
Eastern Cape 185
Limpopo 154
Mpumalanga 131
Free State 127
Western Cape 45
North West 27
Northern Cape 18
Total 1,314

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