A forensic investigation into how eight senior Eastern Cape Health Department officials were appointed has opened a can of worms of flouted recruitment processes. A Daily Dispatch report notes that the confidential report shows some health bosses at the department’s headquarters in Bhisho, and in some regional offices, were appointed to non-existent posts, without vetting and in some cases without their qualifications being checked.
The investigation further reveals that some documents supporting their employment were missing and no competency tests were conducted in some cases and appointments were made for some of the senior posts without being advertised as required by law.
The probe also uncovered that a junior employee had signed an appointment letter for a senior official’s employment, while allegedly acting on behalf of his boss at the department headquarters.
The report says the probe by Integrated Forensic Accounting Services, completed late last year, came about after the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) raised concerns about how eight of the senior bosses had been employed. According to the report, of the eight cases scrutinised by investigators, only two were found to have been fully compliant with recruitment processes.
This however was disputed by health department spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo who said the forensic probe had only uncovered one case of irregular appointment. “The department indeed sanctioned an investigation into the alleged irregular appointment of eight employees.
“Of the eight cases, seven were found to have been appointed procedurally and therefore the allegations were unfounded.
“In the other case, the finding was that the appointment was irregular and disciplinary processes were proposed for the irregular appointment,” Kupelo said. According to Kupelo, the deputy director-general for human resource and corporate services Karen Campbell “was subjected to a disciplinary process for the one case of an irregular appointment”. Kupelo said Campbell had been suspended and subsequently resigned. Most of the appointments were for senior administrators at the Bhisho head office, while others were for the Amathole and Buffalo City Metro regions.
The report says the probe, which is yet to be made public, further reveals how the department’s human resource department and its filing system for the records of those employed, was in a total shambles. It reveals a trail of missing employment records and incomplete documentary proof for those already in the system.
As a result, investigators expressed frustration to health MEC Dr Phumza Dyantyi, urging her to “take disciplinary steps against officials in charge of maintaining these records”. “The investigation shows that there were instances where the procedures and or policies have not been properly observed.
“At the commencement of this investigation we requested, from the human resource section, certain documentation relevant to the recruitment and or appointment and related matters of certain officials.
“Selected documentation was provided. However a number of key documents were not made available. Several follow-ups were made, but as at the date of this report, important information remains outstanding.
“This shows that a number of irregularities had occurred within the department’s human resources unit,” states the probe.
The report says the affected employees cannot be named as none could be reached for their comment at the time of writing. Some occupy top positions at director and deputy director levels in finance, human resources, supply chain management, information and communication technology, and a senior manager in the office of provincial superintendent-general Dr Thobile Mbengashe.
Some were appointed “abnormally” into positions that did not appear on the department’s official organogram structure, posts which were never advertised, and others in posts already occupied by other officials. Some of their qualifications and references were “never verified”, while records of their vetting by the National Intelligence Agency could not be obtained, according to the report.
In one case it was found that the recruitment panel “deviated” from requirements for a senior post, to accommodate an official who did not possess the necessary minimum requirements.
The report says Kupelo confirmed that most of the implicated employees were appointed to posts that were “not on the organogram”. “However that is not an irregularity, it is provided for within the department of public service and administration prescripts that appointments can be made on posts additional to the establishment when such posts have been deemed necessary,” he said.
Nehawu’s deputy secretary for the Max Madlingozi region Khonaye Gxaleka said the investigation came about after the union raised the irregularities. He said he was pleased their allegations were proved factual by the probe, but said the matter still needed to be dealt with internally.
“All that we are pursuing is clean governance. No one in their sober senses could be happy when people are employed not according to the book, and without transparency. What we are saying is that clean governance should start at the top because our managers, as drivers of the department, cannot be talking left, while the direction they take is going towards the right,” Gxaleka is quoted in the report as saying.Daily Dispatch report