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South Africa : Drive to help indebted government employees.

The KwaZulu-Natal government, in partnership with the KwaZulu-Natal Financial Literacy Association (KZNFLA), the National Credit Regulator and the Justice College, have joined forces to assist heavily indebted government employees.

A two-day workshop, on Debt Counselling and Emolument Attachment Orders (commonly known as Garnishee orders), for Employee Wellness Practitioners and Human Resource employees started on Monday, 18 March 2013. The aim of the workshop is to capacitate them with the knowledge to assist employees who are faced with indebtedness.

The Employee Health and Wellness Practitioners render support and advice to employees who may be experiencing problems due to indebtedness. The workshop targets employees from the 15 provincial departments the first of several, is a response to the high number of indebted government employees, as well as high incidents of fraudulent garnishees. Garnishee orders are court orders requiring the employer of a person in debt to pay part of their wages, with interest, directly to the lender.

The Employee Health and Wellness Practitioners and Human Resources employees will receive training in the Debt Counselling Process and Understanding Garnishees. This will help them to assist and support indebted colleagues better, as well as protecting them from immoral and unregistered debt collecting attorneys.

The garnishee workshop is one of several initiatives that followed the establishment of the Government Employee Focus Group of the KZN Financial Literacy Association. A garnishee task team, driven by the Office of the Premier and the KZNFLA, will implement strategies to deal with existing garnishees and debt counselling, abuse of garnishees and fraudulent garnishees, and ways of preventing indebtedness and garnishee orders.

By April 2011, one out of every seven public servants in KwaZulu-Natal s provincial departments had a garnishee order against their salary, while in September 2012 financial advisory firm, Summit Financial Services estimated that 10-15% of the total workforce of South Africa had some type of garnishee order in place. The average number of garnishee orders per employee is about two, although in some cases can be as high as 12.

KwaZulu-Natal Premier, Dr Zweli Mkhize believes that most debt can be prevented by proper financial planning and advice. It is essential that government helps our civil servants to get out of their debt traps.

Our citizens are looking at us to provide services. How are we going to give of our best to the millions of people out there if debt drains and kills us? This workshop is a great start to respond to a problem that takes the joy out of life for many people

KZNFLA champion, Ina Cronje, MEC for Finance, said we want to get our employees out of the debt spiral. Those who are not in debt yet must be helped to stay out of debt and to avoid garnishee order

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Publication:Mena Report
Geographic Code:6SOUT
Date:Mar 19, 2013
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