WINDHOEK-Taxpayers continue to foot the bill of several public servants who are serving lengthy suspensions with full pay and benefits while waiting for their disciplinary cases to be finalised. The issue, says labour lawyer Clement Daniels, needs urgent reviewing.
According to the Public Service Commission’s 2012-2013 report, 20 public servants were suspended for various acts of misconduct, and half of them were suspended with full pay. Information from the 2013-2014 report is not yet available as the report has not been tabled in parliament.
“This, in my view, is unfair towards taxpayers who are paying while these people are on suspension. I cannot blame the suspended employee for this, but rather the employers who often take time to finalise cases,” said Daniels.
Daniels, who worked as a magistrate in the regional and labour courts, partly blamed the monetary wastage on the limited capacity within the Public Service Commission, local authorities and parastatals to deal with disciplinary measures efficiently.
“The employers have the obligation to deal with the matter efficiently within the prescribed timeframe, therefore they must speed up the disciplinary processes to conduct and finalise hearings,” said Daniels.
Although there are several factors such as investigations that delay the conclusion of disciplinary cases, Daniels says there is a need for a workable solution to deal with the matter.
Some public servants cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars while sitting at home waiting for their disciplinary cases to be concluded. The report does not indicate the amount collected in pay and benefits by the suspended officials.
Last year, the Namibia Training Authority suspended its Chief Executive Officer Maria Nangolo-Rukoro with full pay and benefits. She remains on suspension.
The Namibian last week reported that the NTA has offered to pay off its former boss after key evidence in the case against the suspended CEO was thrown out during disciplinary proceedings.
The Maltahöhe Village Council’s Chief Executive Officer, Eliphas Shipanga, is also currently on suspension with full pay for over a year now. He was suspended for alleged insubordination and other malpractices.
NamPol’s Chief Inspector Frederick Nalisa is also on suspension for alleged theft and is currently out on bail. He allegedly stole from the police safe.
According to the Public Service Act, a permanent secretary may, on the recommendation of the Commission, suspend any staff member at any time before or after he/she has been charged, provided the permanent secretary has reasons to believe that the staff member is guilty of misconduct.
The staff member shall be suspended only where the nature of the misconduct dictates that the staff member be removed from his or her place of duty or if the possibility exists that the staff member may interfere or tamper with witnesses or evidence.
All suspensions of public servants are without pay except to such an extent as may be approved by the prime minister on the recommendation of the Commission upon receipt of the staff member’s written appeal against his or her non-entitlement to pay, within seven days from the day of suspension.
By Mathias Haufiku"