Disability management in the public service : the case of the Gauteng Provincial Administration
Mahlangu, Lindiwe Marjory
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Cabinet has on two instances set specific transformation targets to be achieved by Public Service departments as part of its transformation agenda. A 2% target was set for the employment of people with disabilities in the Public Service by March 2010. In order to assist the process, various legislations, regulations, framework documents and other relevant resources were put in place. Structures such as the Department of Public Service and Administration, Department of Labour, the Public Service Commission and the recently established Ministry of Women, Children, Youth and people with Disabilities, have all been tasked with a responsibility of ensuring that departments achieve these targets. It is however not clear what informed the 2% versus the overall population statistics of people with disabilities in South Africa. This would be imperative as it would possibly further explain the inability of Public Service departments to achieve this target. Public Service departments are, by virtue of legislation, required to develop employment equity plans that will specify disability targets within a specific time-frame. The key objective of this study was to determine the extent to which departments in the Gauteng Provincial Administration have failed or succeeded in employing, retaining and reasonably accommodating people with disabilities in line with the 2% target. The assessment focuses on the disability management processes that are employed and their efficiency and effectiveness. For purposes of the study, the hypotheses was formulated that the inability of the Gauteng Provincial Administration to employ, retain and reasonably accommodate people with disabilities and thus reach the disability equity targets set by Cabinet, is due to poor and ineffective disability management. To test the validity or otherwise of the hypothesis, use was made of theoretical review of literature in promoting effective disability management in the Gauteng Provincial Administration. Empirical research was also conducted to test the attitude and perceptions of the Gauteng Provincial Administration officials who have disabilities as well as those who do have disabilities on the existence and effectiveness of disability management practices in their departments. The views of representatives from the Department of Public Service and Administration, Administration, the Public Service Commission as well as the organizations of people with disabilities were also solicited, specifically in terms of their roles as key stakeholders in promoting and sustaining effective disability management. The study found, amongst others that: • Policies on disability management do exist in departments but mainly as part of compliance. • Senior management commitment to disability management is not so visible. • There is insufficient disability awareness taking place in departments. • Labour unions are silent and invisibly in promoting the rights and interests of people with disabilities. • Other stakeholders could add value to the promotion of effective disability management in the Gauteng Provincial Administration. The study concludes with practical recommendations which departments can adopt as strategies for effective disability management. Specific areas of further research are also highlighted.