Disabled people make up 0.38% of state workforce

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Cape Town –  More than 5 000 people with disabilities, representing 0.38 percent of the total workforce, are being employed by government, a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee heard on Wednesday.

A survey done by the Department of Public Service and Administration showed that at the end of 2012, the public service, with 39 government departments, employed 5 127 people with disabilities. This represented 0.38 percent out of a total workforce of 1 340 410 employees.

A total of 2 106 or (41.07 percent) out the 5 127 were female, while 82 people with disabilities were employed at senior management services levels, and a further 206 were in middle management.

The department also informed the Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration that the survey also found that out of the country’s 39 national departments, 11 were above 1 percent, while only seven had achieved the Cabinet target of 2 percent.

Among the compliant departments were the Government Communication and Information System with 2.24 percent, Department of Labour with 2.44 percent, Department of Public Enterprises with 3.38 percent, and the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities which tops the list with 5.55 percent.

The department said that Cabinet had resolved in 2000 that there should be a 2 percent representation of people with disabilities employed by the public service.

In 2005, Cabinet resolved that the 2 percent target should be set for December of that year. This target was extended to March 2009. Last December Cabinet retained the 2 percent benchmark.

According to the survey, the trends showed that while the public service did not meet the 2 percent equity target, it was not losing large numbers of employees with disabilities as had been alleged in some news reports.

The major problem seemed to be that people were moving between departments. The department said it would investigate the reasons for this.

Deputy Minister for Women, Children and People with Disabilities Henrietta Bogopane-Zulu urged the department to ask why disabled people switched jobs, as well as the matter of job progression because disabled people were often stuck in the same position for years.

“It’s a bigger picture that needs to be looked at,” she said.

Bogopane-Zula also urged the department to re-examine its definition of disabled people.

Employers were under the misapprehension if they employed physically disabled people that they were covering all people without disabilities. However, this practice left out deaf and blind people.

Chairperson Joyce Moloi-Moropa voiced her committee’s disappointment with the failure of the majority of government departments to achieve the 2 percent target.

“We are going to pressurize departments to do what they have to do,” she said, urging all departments to collaborate and work together to meet the 2 percent goal. – SAnews.gov.za