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PP calls for legal proceedings to review appointment of HR manager

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It was reported that his qualifications and experience were not comparable to the other two shortlisted candidates.

The Public Protector Advocate Busiswe Mkhwebane has instructed the Northern Cape Economic Development Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (Nceda) to institute legal proceedings to review the appointment of its human resources manager, after she found that he was irregularly appointed in 2012. 

The complaint was lodged anonymously on April 1 2014, alleging that while Teboho Luse was appointed as the human resources manager, he was not the preferred candidate of the selection panel.

It was reported that his qualifications and experience were not comparable to the other two shortlisted candidates. 

At the time Luse was working for a consultancy company, Daltim Consultancy, as an assistant project manager, that was appointed by the Nceda to manage their recruitment processes to fill vacant management positions.

Mkhwebane ordered the Nceda board to institute proceedings within the next 60 days upon receipt of her report, as the contract of employment could not simply be cancelled.

“A proper judicial review application has to be brought to review the decision to appoint him and to declare the appointment invalid.”  

She advised the MEC for the Department of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, Maruping Lekwene, to take appropriate steps against the chief executive officer (CEO) and former chairperson of the board of Nceda, Thobela Dikeni, for the irregular appointment, within the next 60 days of the receipt of the report that was dated March 24.

She instructed Lekwene to develop a remedial plan of action, within 60 business days.

“The submission of the implementation plan of my remedial action, shall in the absence of a court order, be complied with, within the period prescribed in this report, to avoid being in contempt of the public protector.” 

Mkhwebane stated that in response to the complaint,  Dikeni explained that the appointment was not put on the agenda of the Nceda board for a decision, as the selection panel had made recommendations to him, as the chairperson of Nceda at the time, for approval, in the absence of a CEO. 

She said the CEO at the time, Advocate M Phera, requested the former MEC for the Department of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, John Block, to intervene to stop the appointment, pending an investigation.

“A memorandum was sent to MEC Block, where Phera raised his concerns that Luse was not the preferred candidate upon evaluation by the selection panel. 

“He also highlighted a possible conflict of interest, as his inclusion as a candidate, as he was an employee of the consultancy firm that was managing the Nceda’s recruitment process at the time.”  

She added that on December 13 2012, former MEC Block requested Dikeni to first provide reasons in writing as to why Luse should be appointed.

Makhwebane indicated that no correspondence between Dikeni and Block regarding the reasons for the appointment, could be traced during the investigation. 

“No evidence could be found that the allegations relating to Luse’s irregular appointment were investigated.” 

She stated that Dikeni had explained that there was no policy regulating the recruitment and appointment of staff, at the time when Luse was appointed. 

“He appointed the members of the selection panel, which consisted of representatives from the Nceda board and officials from the department. The selection panel were to make recommendations to the board, where it was decided to appoint Luse, although he was the third preferred candidate. 

“Dikeni stated that the Nceda board decided that he should sign letters of appointment as Nceda did not have a CEO at the time. He conceded that the Nceda did not have any records of any meetings of the board’s discussions relating to Luse’s appointment and stated that he regrets signing the letter.” 

Makhwebane pointed out that Luse was issued with a letter of appointment on November 1 2012, before the selection panel had recommended their preferred candidate. 

 “There is no indication in the evidence and information obtained during the investigation that Dikeni was appointed by the board or the MEC to perform the role of CEO, in respect of the appointment of staff, as provided by the Nceda Act. 

“Dikeni did not have the authority to appoint staff in his capacity as chairperson of Nceda at the time.” 

She added that no evidence was available that the conflict of interest that arose regarding Luse’s involvement with the consultancy company appointed by Nceda and his shortlisting for the position, was ever investigated or resolved before his appointment. 

“Luse’s appointment was therefore not in accordance with the Nceda Act and policy.” 

Makhwebane stated that in terms of the policy, the candidate preferred by the selection panel should have first been offered the position and thereafter declined it, before it was offered to Luse. 

“The remuneration paid to Luse, since his appointment resulted in irregular expenditure. The conduct of Nceda in appointing Luse was therefore improper and constitutes maladministration.” 

Spokesperson for the Department of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism Ali Diteme on Monday said all matters relating to human resource management, had been set aside, until the end of the lockdown.