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Public protector finds Military Veterans Department appointed people without qualifications and experience

PUBLIC Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has made findings of irregularities in the Department of Military Veterans. Picture: Oupa Mokoena African News Agency (ANA)

PUBLIC Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has made findings of irregularities in the Department of Military Veterans. Picture: Oupa Mokoena African News Agency (ANA)

Published Oct 29, 2021

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PUBLIC Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has found that the Department of Military Veterans appointed personnel to positions for which they did not possess relevant qualifications and experience.

In her report released on Friday, Mkhwebane investigated three complaints from the department’s employees Tebogo Kebotlhale, Lolo Pitso, and Alfred Ngobeni.

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She said their initial analysis of the three complaints identified 11 issues for investigation, but eight issues later fell off.

Mkhwebane said her office probed whether the department appointed personnel without relevant qualifications and experience to positions of office.

She also said the also probed whether the inclusion of Harold Paka and M R A Chuene to the provincial offices management and stakeholder relations directorate’s payroll, even though they were allegedly not employees of the department.

In her report, Mkhwebane said evidence received during the investigation indicated that Mbulelo Musi was transferred from the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), where he held the position of chief director of communications for the Department of Defence and Military Veterans.

Musi, she said, was subsequently retained in the position, though the department could not verify that he was qualified to occupy such position.

“The department confirmed that, as at the date of this report, information had not been provided by Mr Musi,” she said.

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Mkhwebane said the department failed to adhere to the principles and values underpinning good public administration and the Public Service Anti-Corruption Strategy, aimed at upholding government’s commitment to combat fraud in the recruitment process.

“This undermines the integrity and transparency with which the public service is required to conduct itself.

“In the circumstances, we find that the conduct of the department constitutes improper conduct, as envisaged in the Constitution, and maladministration as envisaged in the Public Protector Act,” said Mkhwebane.

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Mkhwebane also said her office found the allegations, that certain candidates were afforded preferential treatment during the selection and recruitment process for the filling of the position of deputy director-general for empowerment and stakeholder management, was not substantiated.

She said there was no evidence that the initial selection committee, chaired by General L Make, was approved by the minister as required.

“As the committee was unauthorised, there was no duty on the minister to declare any reasons for not accepting the shortlist from the initial selection committee,” added Mkhwebane.

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However, Mkhwebane found that Mr Paka was included in the provincial offices and stakeholder management directorate’s payroll though he was not an employee of the department.

Paka was transferred from the Mpumalanga provincial legislature to the position of secretary general of South African National Military Veterans Association, from January 2015, for a period of twelve months.

His contract was extended for a further period of 12 months when it ended the following year.

“Based on the evidence and information obtained during the investigation, as well as the application of the relevant legislative prescripts to the facts of the matter, it may be concluded that Mr Paka was transferred to a position which did not exist in the approved organisational structure of the department,” concluded Mkhwebane.

Mkhwebane said the department did not follow the requirements set out in the public service regulations to create a post for Paka, instead it transferred him to a post which did not exist in a supernumerary capacity.

“His appointment should have been approved by the minister, but was approved by the former director-general, Mr Motumi,” said Mkhwebane.

She also said Paka’s post was unfunded and amounted to irregular expenditure.

“The former director-general of the department, Mr Motumi, in appointing Mr Paka, failed to ensure effective, efficient, economical and transparent use of financial and other resources of the department, and further failed to take appropriate steps to prevent irregular expenditure,” stated Mkhwebane.

Mkhwebane said there was no evidence supporting the appointment of Ms Chuene as irregular.

She said former acting director general lieutenant-general Derrick Mgwebi stated that the post was advertised and a selection board was held.

“We could not find that the conduct of the department constitutes improper conduct as envisaged in the Constitution, and there is no evidence of maladministration as envisaged in the Public Protector Act,” added Mkhwebane.

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