26 September 2023

SOUTH AFRICA: Unions push back on financial probes

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South African public sector unions are objecting to the State’s inclusion of new vetting methods for people applying for Government jobs that include stringent checks on financial obligations.

Minister of Public Service and Administration, Noxolo Kiviet Gazetted the new directives that include integrity assessments and credit history checks.

Mr Kiviet said the rules must be implemented for the National, Provincial and Local Governments and all State-owned entities.

According to the directives, job seekers will now be subjected to a method already used by the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) that entails assessing an applicant’s financial situation and whether or not they have been paying their debts.

Other checks include previous workplace records, truth veracity tests, criminal records and qualifications.

Acting Deputy General Manager for Members’ Affairs at the Public Service Association, Rueben Maleka said vetting should relate to the relevancy and responsibility of an employee’s occupation.

“This process should not necessarily see the Government checking on how people manage their bank accounts,” Mr Maleka (pictured) said.

“We don’t believe a recruitment process should be an investigation. Vetting and investigation are different. We don’t think it is appropriate unless it is for a specific job to do with handling finance. We don’t encourage it.”

He said if an applicant was seeking the position of a Chief Financial Officer or Director-General, then the new vetting procedure would make sense.

“Why would you have the same process for someone who is going to be a clerk, who will be dealing with non-financial matters? That would be a waste of resources,” Mr Maleka said.

In his State of the Nation Address earlier this year, President Cyril Ramaphosa said a professional Public Service, staffed by skilled, committed and ethical people, was critical to an effective State and ending corruption, patronage and wastage.

“In line with the framework for the professionalisation of the Public Service, integrity assessments will become a mandatory requirement for recruitment to the Public Service and entry exams will be introduced,” Mr Ramaphosa said.

Pretoria, 26 August 2023

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