Home News PSC recommends that NC dept recovers costs of ‘irregular appointment’

PSC recommends that NC dept recovers costs of ‘irregular appointment’

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“It is shocking that the department appointed a director with no relevant experience.”

THE PUBLIC Service Commission (PSC) has recommended that the Northern Cape Department of Sport, Arts and Culture recover the costs of an irregular appointment that is estimated to have cost the department in the region of R1 million in fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

A settlement agreement and arbitration award had to be awarded to two candidates who were shortlisted for the job.

The complaint was made following allegations of maladministration, nepotism and favouritism at the Northern Cape Department of Sports, Arts and Culture.

Elizabeth Manong was appointed as a senior manager on January 1, 2018. The PSC believed that she did not possess the experience or qualifications specified in the advertisement for the post.

The PSC commissioner, Anele Gxoyiya, in a report, pointed out that the position was not an entry level post where the requirements could be overlooked.

The DFA is in possession of a copy of the report.

It was discovered that the submission for Manong’s appointment was drafted on the same day as her interview, on November 20, 2107.

The PSC report stated that the competency assessments were only done on November 23, 24 and 27, 2017, pointing out that the successful candidate was chosen three days before the competency assessments were conducted.

Gxoyiya established that the successful candidate had not completed the competency test for director of sport and recreation but only for the director of cultural affairs post for which she was interviewed.

The report recommended that the executive authority should liaise with the Office of the State Attorney to lodge a court application to declare the appointment as irregular and unlawful.

“The executive authority must immediately report to the minister the particulars of the non-compliance and report to the PSC on the disciplinary steps taken.”

Gxoyiya, in the report, advised that disciplinary action should be taken against the selection and interview members, scribe and human resources for their omissions.

“The minutes to the interviews were allegedly handwritten and typed. However, the laptop crashed and the handwritten minutes were destroyed by the scribe, who indicated that it was ‘normal practice’.

“The unavailability of the minutes weighs against the Northern Cape Department of Sport, Arts and Culture’s standard practice. It does not justify the destruction of important records.

“This is a contradiction of the record keeping prescripts. The department failed to adhere to the recommendation made by the MEC that the panel must consist of a female representative in senior management and active panel member and not just a scribe.

“The long list which is informed by the CVs submitted to human resources shows that another candidate had the required experience in sports management but was not shortlisted.”

The report also indicated that the advertisement called for a recognised Bachelor’s degree or equivalent qualification along with a key requirement of at least five years’ management experience in the sports and recreation field.

“It is shocking that the department appointed a director with no relevant experience. Notwithstanding the vagueness of the advert, the department’s response, in stating that the senior management post required either the qualification or experience and not both is unfathomable.”

Gxoyiya instructed that the executive authority should immediately recover the money from the officials involved as the irregular appointment led to fruitless and wasteful expenditure and a loss of approximately R1 million to the department.

“The executive authority must immediately take appropriate steps regarding the amounts paid to and notch increase received by Mr Lesetedi.”

The report added that Lesetedi was scored as the third highest candidate for the post of director of sports and recreation.

“He was promoted from level 11 notch four to level 12 notch 7, backdated to March 2019, as per the settlement agreement.

“He was also awarded a cash amount of R263,520.91 while his yearly salary increased from R764,000 to R950,211.

“The amounts paid are quite suspicious and can be regarded as fruitless and wasteful expenditure.”

The department claimed that the confidential documents and personal information of applicants had been leaked.

“The department indicated that the decision was made on the basis that Lesetedi submitted a grievance regarding his application for the director of sport and recreation. Nehawu, on his behalf, related that Manong did not meet the criteria for the post to which she was appointed.

“The basis of their agreement was that the advert stipulated a five-year experience in the field of sport and recreation

“They claimed that they had it on good authority that Manong was not interviewed for both posts but only for the post of director of cultural affairs.”

The PSC report also ordered that appropriate steps should be taken over the failure to do a proper investigation in respect of Ms K Nicholas’ CV after requested to do so by the selection and recruitment panel.

It stated that Nicholas, who was not shortlisted, received an arbitration award to the amount of R744,000.

“The department’s response to this was that they settled on that basis and Nicholas used the same approach to contest the appointment of Manong. Nicholas submitted her grievance via the Public Servants Association, General Public Service Sector Bargaining Council and Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council.

“The department stated that it intended to take the outcome of the arbitration award on review.”

It added that after lengthy engagements with the executing authority it was agreed that a settlement agreement should be entered into between the department and Lesetedi

“In fact the department admits that Manong did not meet the criteria. This can be regarded as fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

“The type of degree the candidate needs to possess for the specific job should be clearly outlined in the advertisement.

“The accounting officer must ensure that proper record management processes are in place to be able to control the access to and distribution of information which they hold.”

The spokesperson for the Northern Cape Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, Conrad Fortune, indicated that Manong had in fact applied for both the director of sport and recreation and the director of cultural affairs positions.

“Manong was the preferred candidate with the highest score. The names of the other candidates cannot be released in terms of the Popi (Protection of Personal Information Act ) Act, without the written consent of the person concerned.”

Fortune added that as she was an internal candidate, Manong was offered the post of the director of sport and recreation.

“She has the qualifications and experience within the public service and completed a management development programme with the University of the Free State. In the panel’s opinion she was the most suitable and qualified candidate for the post of director of sport and recreation.”

Fortune stated that the minimum requirement outlined was a recognised Bachelor’s degree or equivalent qualification.

“There were proper records management processes in place. The information on the incumbent was kept by the department and its human resource management and development directorate. The same information was used in the arbitration process.”

He explained that the department was seeking legal advice regarding Manong’s appointment.

“We have no proof that the appointment letter was completed the same day as the interview. Litigation is a costly exercise and even though we will use the Office of the State Attorney, costs are still involved. Furthermore, the incumbent has legal rights as well and can launch interdict proceedings against the department or alternatively oppose the application. To nullify the appointment will be a lengthy legal process. Before embarking on such a course of action all options must be looked at before a final decision is made.”

He stated that settlement agreements paid out to Lesetedi in terms of the arbitration act were “confidential and only applicable to the parties involved”.

“No settlement agreement was entered into with Nicholas. She embarked on an arbitration process which is a confidential matter in terms of the Arbitration Act as amended.”

Fortune pointed out that in order to review the outcome of the arbitration award, the department had to prove to the Labour Court that the PSC commissioner had committed misconduct, a gross irregularity or exceeded his powers in the arbitration.

“This is difficult to prove and a review application must not be embarked upon lightly. The department cannot embark upon frivolous litigation as this has cost implications, especially when such a litigation is not ruled in the department’s favour by the court.”

He indicated that the matter of taking disciplinary steps, as recommended in the report, was “still under discussion and investigation”.

“Based on the outcomes and recommendations, a decision will be communicated to implement disciplinary measures.”

He explained that the laptop of the scribe had “crashed”. “The scribe did not destroy the minutes. The laptop/computer that was used by the scribe at the time crashed, resulting in the information being lost. It is not standard procedure to destroy minutes.”

Fortune indicated that all documents are kept for a number of years in terms of the National Archives Act.

“Documents are to be kept for a number of years and can only be disposed of with the written consent of the national archivist.”

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