Disability management in the South African Public Service. Redress or tokenism?

19 November 2014

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 promulgated. 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 article is to assess the performance of the Public Service on disability management in South Africa. It is argued that despite the provision of elaborate legislative framework to redress the rights and employment of the disabled, implementation thus far is mere tokenism. In pursuance of the discourse, the conceptual and legislative frameworks for disability management are discussed. Challenges that confront the implementation process are identified. Recommendations are offered for consideration by departments as strategies for effective disability management.