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Government sector employees have a responsibility to uphold the rule of law in their operations, and there is increasing pressure to do so. The Auditor-General South Africa (AGSA) conducts regular audits of national and provincial government departments looking for compliance issues, specifically to the Public Finance Management Act and the Basic Conditions of Employment Act as well as any subsequent amendments to either. Auditor-General Tsakani Maluleke has warned that the AGSA will be employing the instruments available to it to enforce accountability, according to the enhanced mandate to ensure public sector fiscal responsibility.
The AGSA released a report that contains the results for the national and provincial audits for the 2019-20 financial year. The report shows a small improvement over previous years, but compliance falls far short of what is needed. According to the AGSA report, more than 69% of those departments and agencies audited didn't comply with the Public Finance Management Act and the Basic Conditions of Employment Act or related legislation. These audits have revealed many weaknesses in the financial controls at various government departments.
Knowledge of the Law
Since the passage of the Public Finance Management Act in 1999, there have been numerous amendments made directly to the act as well as through related legislation. Government employees on all levels have a responsibility to learn the law, understand how it applies to their departments and ensure compliance. Ignorance of the law will not protect a department from actions to enforce compliance. National and provincial government departments need to be proactive when it comes to compliance by ensuring that employees are knowledgeable about laws and kept updated about any newly passed legislation.
Tsakani Maluleke didn't specify what actions would be taken to enforce accountability, but it's clear that these actions would create negative pressure to comply. Departmental disruptions or temporary closures may not be out of the question, but avoiding having the spotlight on your department over compliance issues should be motivation enough. Rather than risk enforcement, departments need to self-regulate and heed the AGSA's call to action. The rule of law needs to govern the conduct of government employees at all times.
Lexis Practical Guidance Labour Public Sector
Lexis Practical Guidance Labour Public Sector is a how-to resource for labour law practitioners, human resources professionals, managers and trade union officials, such as shop stewards in the public sector sphere. It's a comprehensive toolkit for anyone working in the South African public sector. Although much of the content is also included in Lexis Practical Guidance Labour, this practice area specifically covers the many aspects of labour-related issues that apply to employees in national, provincial and local government.
You are held to a higher standard when you serve in the public sector. Ensure your employer is providing you with the support you need. Don't leave the door open to be made an example of over compliance issues. The pressure is overwhelming right now, and there is a need to uphold the rule of law. The Lexis Nexis Practical Guidance for the public sector helps support you in covering your bases.