Former minister in hot water – againComment on this story
Johannesburg - A series of irregular appointments and allegations of corruption in the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities when it was headed by former minister Lulu Xingwana is being probed by the Public Service Commission.
In the latest appointment that appears to be irregular, two days after the national elections – and just two weeks before Xingwana was effectively fired – she made an 11th-hour permanent appointment in her department.
Xingwana personally interviewed Sipiwo Matshoba, her former parliamentary officer, and later signed off the appointment recommendation to appoint him as chief director of resource management.
But Matshoba’s placement is only one of five appointments in the department being questioned by unions, which laid a complaint with the Public Service Commission last week.
They are now asking the commission to force new ministers Susan Shabangu and Bathabile Dlamini to intervene.
On Friday Public Service Commission spokesman Humphrey Ramafoko confirmed that the matter was referred to the commission.
“The PSC has since commenced with the investigation into the alleged corruption, nepotism, discrimination and unfairness in the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities.”
Xingwana did not respond to calls and SMSes and spokeswoman Kenosi Machepa said she knew nothing of the memorandum sent to the commission.
She said the functions related to support for children and people with disabilities were being transferred to the Department of Social Development.
Recent appointments would be looked at, said Machepa, as the transfer to the Social Development Department resulted in a review of the staff complement at a departmental level.
Overall, the process is guided by the Department of Public Service and Administration.
“Should the process point to irregularities in the appointment of certain staff members, recommendations will have to be made to guide how these should be addressed,” Machepa said.
She would not comment on Xingwana’s appointments.
The memo, however, refers to five irregular appointments in recent months.
It states: “We urgently need political intervention in the department to address internal transfers of officials with no proper procedure followed, the performance assessments and payment of bonuses, and ministry staff transferred to senior management positions without following proper procedure.”
The union, according to the document sent to the commission, is also asking for a moratorium and reversal of all new appointments.
They want the unions to be involved when staff are moved from the old Women, Children and People with Disabilities Department to the two new departments.
The Sunday Independent has seen a copy of the memorandum.
Documents show that Matshoba’s new job had been vacant since May last year.
Matshoba’s interview took place on April 22 but the appointment was signed off on May 9 by Deputy Director-General Thandeka Mxenge, Director-General Veliswa Baduza and the minister.
Former deputy minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu did not sign off the appointment.
It also reveals that Xingwana personally sat in on the interviews. She did however declare that Matshoba had been her parliamentary officer previously.
The Sunday Independent has also seen a submission to Xingwana made in September last year to “review the placement of staff to enhance organisational capacity”.
The submission was signed off by Baduza and then by Xingwana in October last year.
The submission alludes to the disorder in the department: “There are anomalies regarding the placement of certain employees in the establishment due to undocumented movement of staff. It should be noted that the administration branch is already over-staffed when compared to other branches,” the document states.
“The department has less than 12 months to the end of the financial year and the first quarter performance report is still at less than 80 percent on achieved targets.
“The department has also not been able to make an impact on ensuring the realisation of the 2 percent target for employment of people with disabilities in the public sector and this remains a cause for concern in the advancement of the rights of people with disabilities,” it states.