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Godongwana told the Constitutional Court that the civil servants’ request is incompatible with the Constitution’s Bill of Rights, the rule of law, the principle of legality, the doctrine of the separation of powers and competing claims on scarce fiscal resources. during the circumstances of Covid-19. .
Johannesburg – Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana has denied that the government is using the financial crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic to downsize the civil service.
The Supreme Court will hear arguments from an application for leave to appeal brought by a number of unions representing government employees challenging the December 2020 Labor Appeal Court ruling which ruled the final stage of the l three-year wage agreement signed in 2018 illegal and unconstitutional.
Public sector employees are challenging the December 2020 Labor Appeal Court ruling. Photo by Bheki Radebe
Godongwana, who replaced Tito Mboweni earlier this month following a cabinet reshuffle from President Cyril Ramaphosa, claimed that despite many jobs lost and workers making sacrifices in the private sector, civil servants failed have not suffered the same fate.
“Their jobs are secure, no policy or directive to lay off public sector employees has been implemented. Indeed, the number of civil servants actually increased in 2020 compared to 2019 by just under 9,000 (or around 0.6%) and salaries were maintained at levels higher than those of comparable economies around the world. », Insisted the minister.
The minister was responding to the Alternative Information and Development Center (AIDC), which asked to be admitted as amicus curiae (friend of the court) in the unions’ application for leave to appeal.
Godongwana continued, “In the current case, there is clear evidence that the Covid-19 budget crisis is not being used as a basis for downsizing civil servants.”
“Any notion that civil servants should not be earning a living wage is totally foreign to the government’s approach to this issue,” Godongwana said.
The Cape Town-based AIDC has indicated that it is considering taking legal action to challenge the constitutionality of what it has described as the Ramaphosa administration’s neoliberal austerity measures.
The center also warned the Constitutional Court against allowing itself to be swayed by political ideologies in determining the wage dispute between the government and its employees when it hears the case later this month.
Godongwana opposes AIDC’s request because it was filed late.
“The arguments offered by the IACL are unnecessary inasmuch as its representative is not qualified to make assertions on the economic and fiscal matters of experts tempted to be raised,” wrote the prosecutor’s office of the State, which represents Godongwana.
According to the state attorney’s office, there is no advanced factual basis for the allegations in the AIDC affidavit.
The government maintains that AIDC’s assertions run counter to established Supreme Court jurisprudence on the separation of powers and on economic and fiscal matters, which fall within the executive’s exercise of its constitutional jurisdiction.
“Coherent ideological arguments of the type defended by the AIDC (to the extent that they are justiciable) would require – at a minimum – a lot of evidence on the justification of the political program chosen by the government,” the office explained.
“Fiscal policy is the exclusive competence of the executive. It is not for the courts to reshape the fiscal policy agenda chosen by the executive under the guise of fair and equitable redress, ”said the attorney general, adding that the centre’s observations were so fundamentally flawed as to made them unnecessary for the court.
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