Concerns rise as Department of Justice leads in supplier payment delays

Commissioner Anele Gxoyiya. Picture: Ntswe Mokoena/GCIS.

Commissioner Anele Gxoyiya. Picture: Ntswe Mokoena/GCIS.

Published Mar 12, 2024


Rather than fulfilling its duty and setting an example in law enforcement, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DOJ) has emerged as the primary cause of delayed payments to suppliers, according to findings from the Public Service Commission (PSC).

In a briefing in Pretoria yesterday the PSC released its quarterly news bulletin titled: “The Pulse of the Public Service” covering the period between October 1 and December 31, 2023.

The commission disclosed that a total of 23 national departments nationwide were struggling to meet the requirement of ensuring payment to service providers within a 30-day period.

Commissioner Anele Gxoyiya shared that the total number of invoices paid after 30 days period by national departments amounted to 33 394 invoices to the value of R1 billion, whereas in the first quarter, these departments recorded 26 223 invoices to the value of R1.2 billion.

Out of 40 national departments, he said only 17 departments reportedly had fully complied with the national requirements in terms of paying on time, as compared to the first quarter which saw only 15 being compliant.

The commissioner said this was worrying given that this number did not even represent 50% of the national departments, and although they could not specify the number of invoices and the value with the information at their disposal, partly due to delays with the National Treasury availing information required, it was still an area of huge concern.

“We encourage the departments to pay suppliers within 30 days as prescribed in the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA). Similarly, we also call on accounting officers to institute consequence management on those who fail to adhere to this policy directive.

“In the absence of accounting officers acting, we call on executive authorities to act on the accounting officers who fail to act.”

However, most troublingly, the commissioner pointed out that rather than upholding the law and ensuring compliance from others, the DOJ was, in fact, violating the same provisions of the PFMA. It stood out as the primary department contributing to delayed payments of invoices.

“The total number of invoices paid by provinces after the 30 days amounted to 48 478 invoices amounting to R5.9 billion which is a huge amount of money. Although these invoices were paid it should be noted that payment after the prescribed period is a huge problem.”

By province the North West province had the highest number of invoices paid late, with as many 14 676 invoices to the value of R759 million.

It was followed by the Eastern Cape with 12 757 invoices valued at R 1.7 billion.

Limpopo departments however led the pack, with the least number of invoices paid after a 30 days period which amounted to R30 million for 163 invoices.

“We don't commend the departments in the province just yet, but we say there is room for improvement. Granted they paid them, but they paid them late. Non-payment or delays have a huge impact particularly for small businesses because, in the absence of payments, some are forced to close down and others end up taking loans just to stay afloat,” Gxoyiya stressed.