SA Job Losses: 135,000 Jobs Lost In South African Public Service

Amid growing concerns over the rising unemployment across the country comes the report of over 135,000 job losses in the South African Public Service. In line with the Treasury’s efforts to curb spending on the public sector by freezing the posts, the Public service is expected to intensify its service delivery constraint by freezing most of the posts in the department.

The South African public service is also expected to go further into the job cuts in the next few years as a tenth of posts in national and provincial government departments are vacant and these departments are terminating employment at a faster rate than they are hiring. Up to 134‚919 of the public service’s 1‚307‚552 posts are vacant‚ according to the third quarter report on the public service by the Public Service Commission.

The commission also revealed that from July to September ending this year, a total of 74‚118 (55%) jobs at the administrative operating level were closed down while 58‚567 are for posts “at the coalface of service delivery”‚ according to the commission. A total of  7‚975 appointments have also been terminated within this period as compared with the 6‚004 new appointments made. This comes amid the Treasury’s efforts to curb spending on the South African public service by freezing the posts. Observers have raised concern this could compromise delivery in key functions such as healthcare and education. In its bid to avoid further junk status from rating agencies, the Treasury said it was set to work out plan that could cut spending or tax increases of R40bn to strengthen the fiscus.

Finance minister Malusi Gigaba stated while responding to the announcement by the S&P Global Ratings which cut South Africa’s local-currency debt score to junk, that It said that restoring business and consumer confidence and catalysing inclusive growth is the top priority of government. “In the 2017 Medium Term Budget Policy Statement chapter on fiscal policy, we indicated that additional spending cuts or tax increases of R40bn (0.8% of GDP), would be required from 2018/19, in order to stabilise public debt below 60% of GDP over the next decade,” Treasury said in a statement. “Over the next two weeks, the PFC and Cabinet will consider a package of measures to this effect, to be implemented from 2018. Specific details on these measures will be announced in the 2018 Budget,” Gigaba had stated. South Africa’s unemployment level stands at 27.7 percent in the third quarter as employment gains in finance and services were offset by job losses in manufacturing, construction and agriculture. Statistics South Africa, in its quarterly labour force survey, said that the number of unemployed rose slightly to 6.2 million in the three months to end September from 6.177 million in the second quarter.

The agency said employment grew by 92,000 in the quarter but this was offset by an additional 33,000 job-seekers as the manufacturing, construction and agriculture sectors continue to shed 105,000 jobs in total. “There is certainly a very difficult situation when you look at these numbers,” Statistician General Pali Lehohla told journalists after revealing the numbers.


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