Civil servants took home billions in extra pay over the last five years

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Minister of Public Service and Administration Noxolo Kiviet revealed that nearly R3bn was spent on civil servants’ performance bonuses and incentives over the last five years. Picture: Gallo Images

Civil servants have been generously remunerated over the last five years – taking home nearly R3 billion’s worth of performance bonuses and incentives.

Public Service and Administration Minister Noxolo Kieviet revealed the exorbitant figure during a recent Q&A session in Parliament.

According to Sunday Times, the figures were detailed in written replies submitted to parliament by Kiviet in response to questions from Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Leon Schreiber.

Multibillion-rand wage bill

National departments reportedly spent more than R726 million in performance bonuses between 2019 and 2024, with almost half paid out in 2022.

Meanwhile, provincial administrations spent R2.2 billion in bonuses – taking up two-thirds of the total expenditure.

This amount went towards financing the 13th cheques of doctors, teachers and nurses among other civil servants.

According to Department of Public Service and Administration spokesperson, Moses Mushi, government spent over R2.4 billion on performance bonuses alone during the last five years.

Justifying the expenditure, Mushi said the 13th cheque or “service bonus” was an incentive to encourage employees in the public service.

“This has been a standard remuneration philosophy across public and private sectors,” said Mushi.

Attempts to trim public wage bill

Mushi indicated that the steep budget was currently being sliced in attempts to trim the public wage bill.

Additionally, he said the number of staff earning performance bonuses declined from 218,792 in 2028 to 3,767 this year.

“This reflects a consistent management of the wage bill. But this is not the only intervention in the management of the national fiscus. Managing the wage bill continues to be aligned with the delivery of services.”

Fully paid on suspension?

Meanwhile, Kiviet said government employees earned their performance bonuses based on the audit outcomes of their departments.

“The performance assessments of heads of department and members of the senior management service take into consideration the auditor-general’s findings and opinions and the department’s performance against the planned targets included in its annual performance plan.

“Employees are rewarded based on the outcomes of their moderated performance assessment, on whether they have performance above the expected level.”

Ironically, she revealed that 158 civil servants in national government received a total of R21.8 million in pay while on suspension.

Furthermore, 237 suspended officials in provincial governments received a total of R107 million.

The Citizen /  Vukosi Maluleke