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Appointment irregular – Protector

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‘Council has 30 days to deal with the matter and will comply with the time”

PUBLIC Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has recommended that steps be taken against the municipal manager of the Frances Baard District Municipality following the irregular appointment of a development planner in 2017.

Gerline Roman, the district manager of the Frances Baard District Municipality said council met yesterday to discuss the report from the Public Protector.

“Council has 30 days to deal with the matter and will comply with the time frames.”

The report, which was signed off on March 3, advised that the municipal manager, Mamikie Bogatsu, should conduct an analysis and evaluation of the qualifications, competence and experience of the development planner, O Gopane, within the next 30 days.

Mkhwebane indicated that the district municipality could not simply cancel the employment contract, where council will have to bring a judicial review application to review the decision to appoint Gopane and declare the appointment invalid.

“The remuneration paid to Gopane since her appointment therefore constitutes irregular expenditure and resulted in the misappropriation of public funds,” Mkhwebane said.

According to the complaint that was lodged by a South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) representative, Neo Sebe, at the Northern Cape Public Protector’s Office in Kimberley on April 4, 2017, Gopane did not qualify for the position and was not recommended by the interview panel.

Mkhwebane found that the appointment was in contravention of the recruitment and selection procedures and that it amounted to maladministration and improper conduct.

“Gopane was not suitably qualified for the position of development planner.”

She instructed that the Frances Baard district mayor, Patrick Wende Marekwa, take disciplinary action against Bogatsu for the irregular appointment, within the next 30 days upon receipt of the report.

“The mayor must take a resolution on the matter, within 60 business days from the date of receiving my report.”

Mkhwebane stated that a report had to be submitted to council within the next 30 business days.

“Appropriate steps must be taken to institute proceedings for the judicial review of the irregular appointment of Gopane, within 30 business days from the date of receiving my report.”

Mkhwebane indicated that failure to implement remedial action and inform her of the resolutions taken, would amount to being in contempt of the Public Protector’s Office.

She stated that the position that was advertised on July 13, 2016 required the successful candidate to be in possession of a relevant national diploma, BTech or Bachelor’s degree in town and regional planning, or development studies, where registration as a planner with the South African Council for Planners (Sacplan) was considered an advantage.

“Comprehensive understanding of the strategic objectives, legislative responsibilities, technical knowledge and extensive experience in planning (both strategic and spatial) was part of the criteria.”

Four to five years’ experience at middle management level and exposure in planning and development and integrated development planning or related disciplines and project management experience, was a stipulated requirement.

She added that the vacancy that was re-advertised on December 9, 2016 stipulated that the successful candidate be in possession of a relevant qualification in town and regional planning and development studies, registration as a planner with Sacplan or a Master’s degree in developmental or planning studies.

Mkhewbane stated that out of the seven candidates who applied, five were shortlisted, including Gopane, during interviews that were conducted on January 27, 2017.

“The minutes of the interview meeting state that the preferred candidate recommended for appointment by the interview panel scored a total of 119 points.

“It appears from the curriculum vitae (CV) of the candidate preferred by the interview panel that he has a Bachelor’s degree in urban and regional planning, obtained from the University of Venda, and is registered with the Sacplan.”

She added that the second preferred candidate scored 111 points and possessed a national diploma in town and regional planning and a BTech degree in town and regional planning, both obtained from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, and was registered with Sacplan.

Mkhwebane pointed out that the appointment of Gopane as the development planner on March 6, 2017 was improper as she did not have the requisite qualifications.

“She was not recommended by the interview panel. Furthermore, Gopane was not registered with the Sacplan, which is a basic requirement for a town planning position.

“According to the minutes of the interview panel, Gopane scored 104 points, the highest of all the female candidates.

“She has a national diploma, a Bachelor’s degree and an MTech degree in public management.

“There is no indication in her CV that her studies included planning and or development studies. It appears from her CV that most of her experience was in the performance management environment. It does not indicate any understanding of the strategic objectives, legislative responsibilities, technical knowledge relating to planning and she did not have relevant experience in planning, monitoring and evaluation or development planning in a municipal environment.”

She added that during the selection process, Gopane was rated as having an “average knowledge of legislation guiding the Integrated Development Planning (IDP) processes”.

“Gopane was found to understand the importance of public participation. However, she has no knowledge of spatial planning and land use and its principles. She was vague in explaining the strategic planning process. She has more experience in performance management and limited experience in development planning. The candidate is not recommended for the position of development planner.”

Mkhwebane indicated that the municipal manager was of the view that Gopane qualified for the position according to the criteria that were set out in the second advert.

“The municipal manager indicated in her response that Gopane holds a Master’s degree in public management with the minor field of study indicated as development studies.”

She added that Bogatsu maintained that Gopane was suitably qualified, as she was a woman who fulfilled the employment equity factor and had “extensive experience in the field of planning and development”.

“No details of Gopane’s relevant experience, as stipulated by the second advertisement for the position, were provided by the municipal manager.

“She therefore did not qualify for the position in terms of the minimum academic qualifications.

“There was no indication that she had ‘prior learnings’ for the position and she did not have the required relevant experience.

“There was also no indication that she had the capacity to acquire, within a reasonable time, the ability to do the job. Had this been the case, the interview panel would not have concluded that she was not recommended for the position,” Mkhwebane stated.

She pointed out that while the other shortlisted candidates possessed the requisite qualifications and experience for the position, Gopane did not qualify.

“There was accordingly no justifiable basis on which she could have been selected as the preferred candidate on the basis of equity.

“Gopane’s appointment as development planner was therefore not in accordance with the recruitment policy of the municipality.”