‘Tainted’ new HOD claims spark outrage at social development

Gauteng social development MEC Mbali Hlophe. | Nokuthula Mbatha/Independent Newspapers

Gauteng social development MEC Mbali Hlophe. | Nokuthula Mbatha/Independent Newspapers

Published Apr 29, 2024


Gauteng department of social development has dismissed allegations of disgruntlement within its ranks following the appointment of its head of department (HOD).

Departmental spokesperson, Themba Gadebe, said it was virtually impossible to comment on allegations that were not officially reported.

“We are not aware of any ‘wide disgruntlements’ across the departmental units and offices. No official grievance has been submitted to the MEC or the premier from staff about the appointment of the HOD,” he said.

“In this regard, it’s difficult for us to confirm an alleged ‘widespread disgruntlement’ when no grievances have been received from staff. We are not aware of a tug of war. Kindly provide more information of who is at war so we may be able to respond adequately,” Gadebe added.

He would not be drawn on why the department had hired the HOD following her pending investigation with the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), adding that the appointment of HODs was not made by the department.

A source whom The Star spoke to said the current HOD had a “damning” finding against her for maladministration during her tenure as the HOD for human settlements as well as her tenure as HOD for the department of agriculture, rural development and environment.

This resulted in some officials being disgruntled within the department as they did not understand how the MEC would appoint “a tainted individual” to head the department.

Among other issues the source said was the redeployment of internal staff within the department, saying that only those close to political principals were given preferential treatment and that processes weren’t followed, citing an example of the chief director for stakeholder relations who was moved to the post of chief director for corporate services, which includes units such as human resources, legal services and infrastructure and in which he had no experience.

When questioned about this, Gadebe said section 14 of the Public Service Act, 1994 comprehensively dealt with transfers within the public service, and the powers bestowed upon MECs/ministers to transfer and second individuals to vacant posts.

“The chief director for stakeholder relations was indeed moved to corporate services, as that post is critical and was vacant. He is suitable for the role because of his experience as a senior manager in the public service for more than 20 years, having been responsible for regions and institutions of the department for more than five years.

“Also, he acted as the deputy director-general corporate services for more than a year, and dealt with issues of HR, budget, and supply chain management, among others,” Gadebe said.

On the appointment of the director for financial accounting to acting chief director responsible for partnerships and sustainable livelihoods when he had no experience of the job, Gadebe said the appointment met all relevant provisions of the acting policy.

He further alluded that the current acting chief director for NPO partnerships has 18 years’ experience in the public sector as a senior manager, with the relevant financial experience as he had occupied crucial roles in financial accounting and acted previously as the department’s CFO.

“The post of chief director of partnerships and sustainable livelihoods entails oversight of NPO funding, currently under investigation and resulting in officials who occupied those posts being suspended.

“The chief director post he currently acts in, is a post that was occupied by an individual who is on precautionary suspension, and is further implicated in numerous other investigations, over the years, not acted on. The acting chief director with his strong finance knowledge and background is able to assist in ensuring processes are corrected in that chief directorate,” Gadebe said.

“As he was also a key role player in the development of the departmental NPO payment system which will be implemented in this financial year,” he said.

On the allegations that the department was making these appointments following the upcoming elections, Gadebe said the allegations were far from the truth and the department was merely acting on numerous allegations on corruption, as it was reported widely in the print media.

“One would have thought that the fact that action is finally taken on reported wrongdoing embedded in the department for over 10 years, such would be welcomed and not met with odd insinuations of electioneering.

“It’s further important to note that the current MEC was only appointed to this department recently (just over a year ago), and immediately acted on the investigations as pronounced by the premier during the State of the Province Address,” Gadebe said.

The Star