Mabuza: Size of public service will probably have to be cut back

Earlier in August, the government denied reports that it intended laying off 30,000 public servants over the next three years.

FILE: Deputy President David Mabuza. Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN - Deputy President David Mabuza says the size of the public service will probably have to be cut back as the government’s wage bill is not sustainable.

Earlier in August, the government denied reports that it intended laying off 30,000 public servants over the next three years, a move that would reduce the wage bill by an estimated R20 billion.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced in his State of The Nation Address in February that the government, which ballooned during Jacob Zuma’s tenure, would be reconfigured.

Mabuza’s also told Members of Parliament (MPs) that the government is concerned about the rising cost of petrol and diesel and is considering “available options” to address fuel costs that are being driven by higher oil prices and a weak rand.

Mabuza spoke of the government’s efforts to cushion the poor, but the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP)’s Mkhuleko Hlengwa told him he’d heard it all before: “South Africans are always told they must tighten their belts, but the government does not seem to be walking its own talk. We see nothing from the government to cut costs.”

Mabuza referred to plans to reorganise and trim the size of the government, saying Ramaphosa will make an announcement at the right time.

“We have just realised that, probably, we have to scale down the public service. As we look at our compensation of employees’ bill, it’s a bill that cannot be sustained going forward. So, it’s important to look at stringent measures of belt-tightening. Because the conditions warrant that move.”

Mabuza also says the government is looking at “available options” to deal with the rising cost of petrol and diesel, that’s being driven by higher oil prices and a weak rand.

WATCH: Mabuza answers questions in Parliament

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)