The Democratic Alliance (DA) has claimed Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu’s “special advisors” earn an annual salary of R1,978,533 each.
It emerged recently that Sisulu had appointed former National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) head Menzi Simelane and former State Security Agency (SSA) head Mo Shaik to the plum posts.
In a statement on Tuesday, DA MP Emma Louise Powell said their alleged salary amount was at Notch A of Level 16 DPSA (Department of Public Service and Administration) Grading – the equivalent of Directors-General of national departments.
‘Well-paid political cadres’
Powell added, “The DA is yet to understand how an optometrist and an ex-prosecutor are qualified to provide advice to a department whose focus is on water, sanitation and housing delivery.
“There is no doubt that gross mis-hiring has taken place – and the deck has been stacked with well-paid political cadres.”
In a statement on Monday, Sisulu’s department said she had obtained approval from the Minister of Public Service and Administration for the appointments.
The department said, “In considering an appointment of a special advisor, qualifications, experience and skills, amongst others, are taken into consideration. Therefore, both appointees are suitably qualified for the positions they hold.”
‘Providing advice to the Minister’
It added that Simelane and Shaik’s responsibilities include “providing advice to the Minister to enable her to execute her duties such as the development of policies to meet the service delivery needs of all South Africans.”
In Sisulu’s case, such service delivery needs include the provision of water as well as decent sanitation and shelter, the department said.
However, Powell said Sisulu is staffing a “political war room in lieu of a capably staffed Ministry” while “taps are running dry across our nation.”
She said, “The total annual cost of Sisulu’s Ministerial Office staff remuneration stands in excess of R13.9 million per year.
“This is excluding the costs of the additional 19 employees recently staffing her ‘National Rapid Response Task Team.'”
Sisulu also stoked controversy last year over her appointment of former Minister Bathabile Dlamini as chairperson of the Social Housing Regulatory Authority’s interim board.
Powell similarly criticised the appointment as “illogical,” but Sisulu’s spokesperson, Makhosini Mgitywa, defended it.
In a radio interview, he said, “[Dlamini] remains a member of the National Executive Committee of the ANC, she is the president of the Women’s League of the ANC and we have to accept the fact that there is a deployment committee of the ANC.”