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Unqualified staff – ELM only “tip of the iceberg”

In the October issue of THG, we carried the story of Mr. Lucas Sindane, the patently under-qualified but nonetheless newly-appointed Technical Services Manager for the Emakhazeni Local Municipality. Judging by the distinct lack of any form of response to that story, THG will take the deafening silence as meaning that we were “right on the money” and our information was indeed 100% correct.

As a damning indictment, as well as an indication of the pitifully inadequate performance of our municipal leaders, these goings-on are merely seen as “par for the course”. And what is more, information currently in THG’s possession would seem to indicate that ELM’s Municipal Manager (MM) and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) may well fall into the same under-qualified category. More on this in a future issue. It would seem, however, that ELM is not alone in these jobs-for-pals shenanigans. In a recent report, ex. Minister of Finance , now Minister for Co-operative Governance & Traditional Affairs, Pravin Gordhan, blasted multiple municipalities for hiring hundreds of under or un-qualified staff members across the country.

The story is taken up by Durban’s Daily News:
Co-operative Governance Minister Pravin Gordhan has roasted finance municipal officers on the poor state of municipalities and asked why 170 of them who are unqualified should not be fired. Gordhan said recently it was regrettable that out of 278 Chief Financial Officers (CFO’s) in all municipalities, 170 of them were not qualified.

He told a conference on fixing the finances of municipalities in Cape Town: “All unqualified CFO’s must be given the boot!” The conference was attended by all CFO’s, municipal audit committees, mayors and municipal public accounts committees.

“It is not right that the R320 billion budget of municipalities was handled by people with no qualifications,” Gordhan said. He also named and shamed the six worst performing municipalities in the country. While there were 41 municipalities that had received disclaimers from the auditor-general for three years in a row, Gordhan said he did not have time to mention all of them. But he nonetheless took time to name Alfred Nzo in the Eastern Cape, Matlosana in the North West, Dihlabeng and Maluti-a-Phofung in the Free State, Kannaland in the Western Cape and Thaba Chweu in Mpumalanga as the prime offenders.

There had been a steady improvement in the audit outcomes of municipalities, he said, but there were serious questions about the qualifications of some of the CFO’s. It was regrettable that out of 278 CFO’s, 170 did not have qualifications, said Gordhan. “We must agree that those 170 must be reduced to 20 or nothing.” It was a serious indictment that some [staff] handling the R320bn budget of municipalities were not qualified. Gordhan also said that out of the 278 municipalities in the country, a third of them were dysfunctional. “It’s no laughing matter that 80 to 90 of your municipalities are dysfunctional. One-third of your constituency is in serious trouble,” he told close to  2 000 delegates.

Gordhan also talked tough against corruption, saying it was destroying municipalities. “(We must) stop the cancer of corruption… I am told the Hawks, the SIU and public protector, have 241 investigations,” he said, on cases probed in municipalities across the country. He wanted more action against corrupt officials and councillors.

“In our system today there are few consequences for transgression of the law. People move from one job to the next without consequences. We are going to stop that. We are going to put legislation in place that will blacklist you for the rest of your life. You can run your business, but we don’t want you in the public sector,” he said.