The Independent Media reports that parliament has rejected Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba’s explanation on the bloated staff complement in his ministry and that of his deputy, Sfiso Buthelezi.
The report is based on a report of the standing committee on finance after it interrogated the finances of the department as well as its public entities. It was reported earlier this year during President Jacob Zuma’s first Cabinet reshuffle of 2017 that Gigaba, moved from home affairs, brought with him 17 new staff members when he moved to Treasury.
It is believed he inherited five staff members from his predecessor, Pravin Gordhan, bringing the number of personnel in the private office of the minister to 22. This is apparently in excess of 10 support and strategic staff members, as per the provisions of the Ministerial Handbook.
The committee’s report is said to have outlined that the information was requested from Gigaba’s office, which in turn furnished it with the number of staff members employed in the private office.
In his response, Gigaba is quoted as having said the Ministerial Handbook provided a guideline for a minimum of 16 ministerial support staff for both the minister and the deputy minister, excluding special advisers.
“Before the appointment of the current political heads, the ministry consisted of 14 core staff, two full-time special advisers and one short-term adviser [less than 12-month contract, a total of 17].”
The response is reported to have further stated that with the current 17 staff members, Gigaba has two full-time special advisers and one short-term part-time adviser.
Unconfirmed reports are that left-leaning Wits economics lecturer Prof Chris Malekane, who earlier this year was reported to have been gagged by the minister, is the short-term special adviser.
“Additional to the above are three staff members seconded from the department, who will return to their posts at the end of the minister’s term. This is well within the guidelines of the Ministerial Handbook,” Gigaba is said to have written.
However, the finance portfolio committee is said to have cautioned that the legal opinion it received from parliament’s legal services unit and parliamentarians disagreed with Gigaba’s views.