Media Release: DPSA confirms extension of Brian Schreuder’s contract was lawful
The Western Cape Government has received advice from the Department of Public Service and Administration which has reaffirmed that the extension of Education HOD Brian Schreuder’s contract was lawful and valid.
Mr Schreuder’s contract was extended for two years in 2018 based on original advice received from the DPSA in 2017 that HODs, who are employed on contract, are not permanent employees, and that their contracts can therefore be extended beyond the retirement age of 65, which only applies to employees permanently appointed in the Public Service.
However, earlier this year, the Public Service Commission finalised and released a report which indicated that this appointment was irregular - without having consulted the DPSA, which is the custodian of the applicable legislation.
In the wake of this report, we requested that the DPSA provide clarity. A legal opinion was provided to the DPSA by the Office of the Chief State Law Advisor, in which the latter concluded that section16(7) of the Public Service Act does not apply to HODs appointed in the Public Service as they are not regarded as permanent employees. HODs’ contracts can therefore be extended beyond the retirement age, which only applies to permanent employees. This in turn means that the Western Cape Government’s actions in extending the contract were not irregular.
Since receiving this legal advice and in the interests of maintaining a good working relationship with the PSC, I have met with the Western Cape Commissioner, Mr Leonardo Goosen, to discuss the matter. I welcome the positive spirit in which we were able to engage. I have also addressed a letter to him in writing outlining our next steps.
Regrettably, the PSC’s finding that Mr Schreuder’s appointment was irregular, was widely reported, which had a negative impact on his reputation. Mr Schreuder is currently serving out the final months of his contract before his retirement next year. He has served this province with distinction throughout his career and I am pleased that the matter can now finally be laid to rest and Mr Schreuder’s reputation restored.
The matter has also been used to score political points and to cast aspersions on Education Minister Debbie Schäfer, despite the fact that the decision to appoint an HOD or to extend an HOD’s contract is taken by the Premier in terms of section 12 of the Public Service Act.
My office will also be writing to the Western Cape Provincial Parliament to share these latest developments. Once that step has been taken, I will regard the matter as finalised.