Name-dropping is now an offence

disputed landing: A Gupta wedding party aeroplane that landed at Air Force Base Waterkloof caused controversy in 2013 Photo: WALDO SWIEGERS
disputed landing: A Gupta wedding party aeroplane that landed at Air Force Base Waterkloof caused controversy in 2013 Photo: WALDO SWIEGERS

Public servants will be charged with misconduct for name-dropping and could also be demoted or dismissed.

The state describes name-dropping as using the name of a public figure to unfairly advantage oneself.

Name-dropping was identified as one of the key contributors when the Gupta family landed at a national keypoint, Waterkloof Airforce Base, in 2013.

Then justice minister Jeff Radebe said the names of President Jacob Zuma, reshuffled transport minister Ben Martins and Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula were "dropped" for government rules to be bent so as to allow the private plane to land.

Chief of state protocol at the time, Bruce Koloane, who was blamed for the saga, was later promoted to ambassador in The Hague.

Several senior SA Air Force officials were later disciplined for the incident but none of the charges stuck. The government has been working on rules making name-dropping a serious disciplinary offence since the saga that became known as Guptagate.

Now, name-dropping constitutes serious misconduct and may lead to dismissal, according to Public Service and Administration Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi's guidelines.

The first name-dropping charge will result in misconduct, repeat offenders face demotion. A public servant will only be dismissed after a disciplinary hearing. The same will apply to those found guilty of sexual harassment.

Ramatlhodi approved these guidelines early this month to force senior public servants to stop the inconsistent application of sanctions for offences.

Ramatlhodi told top public servants, through guidelines sent to head of departments by his director-general Mashwahle Diphofa, that he had noticed an emerging trend of inconsistent application of sanctions for similar misconduct and delays in finalising disciplinary cases due to precautionary suspensions, which cost the government millions of rands.

Thulani Skhosana of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union said they had not discussed the matter but it may come up at its leaders' first meeting of 2016 next month.

Diphofa told his colleagues in a letter dated December 4 that Ramatlhodi had approved guidelines for uniform sanctions and precautionary suspensions for the public service.

"Whilst mitigating and aggravating circumstances are considered during disciplinary hearings, the sanctions that are imposed for similar acts of misconduct should be consistent," the guidelines read.

Government's concern is that outcomes of disciplinary action are subjected to litigation which state entities and departments cannot defend due to inconsistencies in application of sanctions.

A year ago, Sowetan reported that the department had submitted revised sanctioning guidelines for approval by cabinet to discourage the improper use of names of members of the executive.

 

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