Complaints by disgruntled staff prompt minister to order probe
Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande has ordered an investigation into allegations that Tebogo Mmotla, the acting chief executive officer (CEO) of the Mining Qualifications Authority – one of the country’s 21 sector education and training authorities (Setas) – faked his qualification in corporate governance and strategic management.
Disgruntled employees wrote anonymously to Nzimande’s directorgeneral, Gwebs Qonde, earlier this month, asking him to have Mmotla suspended for having lied about his qualifications when applying for the Seta’s chief operations officer post in 2014.
Former CEO Samuel Seepei commissioned an internal audit report and review of all staff qualifications after Nzimande publicly expressed concern early last year over the numbers of people lying about their qualifications when applying for top jobs.
The report that followed, which City Press has obtained, found that Mmotla told his bosses he had completed the SA Institute of Chartered Accountants programme in strategic management and corporate governance. But when the internal auditors obtained the statement of credits from the accounting professionals body, they showed he never completed the course.
The report, dated July 2016, recommended that those found guilty of qualification fraud and corruption be fired and criminally charged. However, the board has yet to act against Mmotla.
“Fraud, corruption and related activities presented the most significant potential risk to the Mining Qualifications Authority’s assets, service delivery, efficiency and reputation,” the report found.
“One of those articles that has been utilised to assist in this report states that Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa told Parliament that people who misrepresented their academic qualifications to get jobs in the public and private sector should be named, shamed and jailed.” In two letters to Qonde, employees listed several grievances and accused Mmotla of qualifications fraud and corruption. Madikwe Mabotha, spokesperson for the department of higher education and training, confirmed receipt of the letters, saying: “This matter was consequently brought to the attention of the minister. He has since written to the board of the mining authority Seta to immediately undertake a thorough investigation into all the matters raised by employees, and to provide him with feedback without any further delay.” Mthokozisi Zondi, acting chairperson of the mining authority’s board, said it had begun the process of appointing an independent company to investigate the employees’ allegations. “The board will be able to take appropriate action once the investigation has been completed,” he said. Zondi sent out an internal memo in December, complaining that employees had written to Qonde, and asked them to instead “commence such engagements by pursuing internal communication channels”. Approached for comment, Mmotla initially said he needed board approval, and then later declined to say anything. City Press has learnt that the board met nine days ago to discuss Mmotla’s suspension, but he remains in his job. An insider at the mining authority accused the board of double standards, saying it had allowed Mmotla to fire an employee found to have faked his qualifications following the same audit, while he remained employed. Asked why Mmotla was not suspended at the board meeting, a board member who declined to be named said all questions would be answered after a preliminary report was compiled and sent to Nzimande and the mineral resources department, to which the mining authority Seta reports. Mineral resources spokesperson Ayanda Shezi did not respond to SMSes and emailed questions. Earlier this month, the DA submitted a complaint to Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, asking her to investigate allegations of corruption by senior mining authority executives.