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CityPress - - News - ANDISIWE MAKINANA andisiwe.makinana@city­press.co.za

Par­lia­ment has re­cently filled four se­nior man­age­ment po­si­tions after head-hunt­ing can­di­dates with close ties to the ANC, while about 300 ju­nior to mid-level po­si­tions re­main frozen. This emerged just weeks after Par­lia­ment claimed it had re­duced its over­all va­cancy rate to just over 4%. How­ever, the ap­point­ments have raised the ire of op­po­si­tion par­ties, who are ac­cus­ing the ANC of over­play­ing its hand by de­ploy­ing its cadres, rather than search­ing for the best tal­ent to serve Par­lia­ment.

It has emerged that three of the four di­vi­sion man­agers who took up po­si­tions in re­cent weeks had pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ence of hav­ing ei­ther worked for or rep­re­sented the ANC in var­i­ous spheres of gov­ern­ment. The DA is now threat­en­ing to chal­lenge some of the ap­point­ments.

Among those head-hunted is for­mer ANC MP Du­misani Job Sit­hole, who re­turned to the na­tional leg­is­la­ture after be­ing fired from his pre­vi­ous job. Sit­hole served as an ANC MP for 10 years be­fore he worked for the City of Johannesburg as the di­rec­tor of the Alexan­dra Re­newal Project, from which he was dis­missed for per­sis­tent in­sub­or­di­na­tion.

Par­lia­ment has seen fit, how­ever, to ap­point him as di­vi­sion man­ager for in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions and pro­to­col. He as­sumed his new du­ties on Jan­uary 9. Par­lia­ment said Sit­hole was bring­ing “ex­ten­sive rel­e­vant ex­pe­ri­ence and ex­per­tise” as he pre­vi­ously served as an MP, mostly as chair­per­son of the for­eign af­fairs com­mit­tee that hosted many in­ter­na­tional del­e­ga­tions.

Par­lia­ment’s new spokesper­son, Moloto Mothapo, this week de­fended Sit­hole’s de­ploy­ment, say­ing the is­sue was ven­ti­lated dur­ing the in­ter­view and “a con­clu­sion ar­rived at was that [his job his­tory] won’t have any ef­fect on his new role”.

In a writ­ten re­sponse to ques­tions about se­nior ap­point­ments by DA chief whip John Steen­huisen, sec­re­tary to Par­lia­ment Gengezi Mgid­lana said the par­lia­men­tary ser­vice had had a high va­cancy rate at se­nior man­age­ment level for a long time, which was a se­ri­ous con­cern as it threat­ened Par­lia­ment’s ad­min­is­tra­tive ca­pac­ity.

He said Par­lia­ment em­barked on a re­cruit­ment drive in 2015/16 in a bid to fill all the va­can­cies, but de­spite ad­ver­tis­ing for the po­si­tions and re­ceiv­ing a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of ap­pli­ca­tions, Par­lia­ment could not find suit­able can­di­dates and had to take the head-hunt­ing route.

For Sit­hole’s po­si­tion, 97 ap­pli­ca­tions were re­ceived, but none of the can­di­dates was “suf­fi­ciently suit­able”. Dur­ing the head-hunt­ing process, Sit­hole was rec­om­mended by the se­lec­tion panel from four short-listed can­di­dates who had been in­ter­viewed. “He emerged as the most suit­able can­di­date based on his demon­strated skills and com­pe­ten­cies,” Mgid­lana said.

Mothapo is him­self a se­nior of­fi­cial who was head-hunted. His of­fi­cial ti­tle is di­vi­sion man­ager for par­lia­men­tary com­mu­ni­ca­tion ser­vices. He was an ANC cau­cus spokesper­son for 12 years.

While he is highly re­garded by many se­nior jour­nal­ists for the work he did as a po­lit­i­cal spin doc­tor, the DA and the Eco­nomic Free­dom Fight­ers (EFF) crit­i­cised his ap­point­ment last month to what they deem should be a non­par­ti­san po­si­tion in Par­lia­ment.

An­other newly em­ployed man­ager is Vusumuzi Mavuso, who had dra­mat­i­cally re­signed from the SABC board dur­ing a heated port­fo­lio com­mit­tee meet­ing in Par­lia­ment on October 5. But less than two months later, on De­cem­ber 1, he as­sumed du­ties as a divi­sional man­ager for mem­ber sup­port ser­vices in Par­lia­ment. He was also head-hunted.

Mavuso pre­vi­ously served as a mem­ber of the provin­cial leg­is­la­ture in Gaut­eng for the ANC and has also served in the Pub­lic Ser­vice Com­mis­sion. He acted as mu­nic­i­pal man­ager of Buf­falo City.

A fourth re­cently em­ployed is Ravi Mood­ley, who as­sumed du­ties as divi­sional man­ager for strat­egy and gover­nance on De­cem­ber 1 2016.

Mgid­lana ar­gued that all can­di­dates were se­lected based on the re­quire­ments of the po­si­tions, which in­cluded a com­bi­na­tion of qual­i­fi­ca­tions, rel­e­vant ex­pe­ri­ence, man­age­ment skills and com­pe­tency lev­els.

An­nounc­ing the ap­point­ments of the se­nior man­agers in a me­dia state­ment last month, Par­lia­ment said it had also re­duced its over­all va­cancy rate from 18% in the 2014/15 fi­nan­cial year to 4.3% in 2017, with women con­sti­tut­ing 54.1% (717) of its staff com­ple­ment of 1 326.

Mgid­lana also told a meet­ing of the joint stand­ing com­mit­tee on the fi­nan­cial man­age­ment of Par­lia­ment that more than 300 po­si­tions had been frozen. Mothapo said the frozen va­can­cies were owing to non-avail­abil­ity of funds, but that Par­lia­ment was in the process of fill­ing po­si­tions that were crit­i­cal to its core busi­ness.

Steen­huisen said the DA was “deeply con­cerned” about the na­ture of the re­cruit­ment and ap­point­ment of se­nior staff. “It is clear to us that the sec­re­tary to Par­lia­ment is in­tent on pack­ing the se­nior man­age­ment of an in­sti­tu­tion that should jeal­ously guard its non-par­ti­san­ship with ANC cadres, some of whom are clearly un­suit­able for the job.”

Steen­huisen said the ap­point­ments were an abuse of the head-hunt­ing pol­icy to en­sure par­tic­u­lar em­ploy­ment out­comes in ac­cor­dance with Mgid­lana’s wishes. As a re­sult, the DA was ex­plor­ing op­tions to chal­lenge some of th­ese ap­point­ments, par­tic­u­larly those of Sit­hole and Mothapo.

The Na­tional Health, Ed­u­ca­tion and Al­lied Work­ers’ Union (Ne­hawu), which rep­re­sents the ma­jor­ity of Par­lia­ment work­ers, ac­cused the in­sti­tu­tion of cre­at­ing “su­pere­lites” while down­siz­ing core po­si­tions with­out con­sult­ing the union.

Disang Mocumi, deputy chair­per­son of Ne­hawu’s Par­lia­ment branch, said this had “se­verely com­pro­mised crit­i­cal sup­port to the core busi­ness of Par­lia­ment and de­mor­alised staff”.

“Par­lia­ment can’t be ob­sessed with vet­ting ju­nior em­ploy­ees, while it head-hunts ques­tion­able in­di­vid­u­als who were dis­missed in their pre­vi­ous em­ploy­ment.

“If th­ese al­le­ga­tions are true, then we won­der why th­ese se­nior of­fi­cials were not vet­ted,” he said in ref­er­ence to Sit­hole’s ap­point­ment.

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