Johannesburg - People who falsify their academic qualifications face being disqualified from employment in the public sector, according to President Jacob Zuma.
He made the remarks as members of the cabinet called for tougher action and even prosecution for people found to have falsified their qualifications.
Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande “noted with concern” the increasing incidents of qualification fraud, saying suspected fraudulent activity should be referred to the police for investigation and prosecution.
The furore around false qualifications follows the resignation of ANC stalwart and former Arts and Culture Minister Pallo Jordan this week, who was found to have falsified his academic qualifications.
Replying to a written question from Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota, Zuma said the government had a system in place where applicants could be disqualified from employment in the public service for falsifying qualifications and in matters such as the abuse of women, which could lead to dismissal.
Lekota had asked the president whether the government had a “clear policy” on disqualifying applicants who misrepresented their qualifications.
He also asked whether the policy covered employees who withheld any damaging information, “battered or abused women” and those who did not have their tax affairs in order.
“Yes, a system is in place whereby applicants can be disqualified from employment in the public service.
“With effect from January 1, 2008, departments have had to conduct pre-employment verifications in respect of a candidate before an appointment or the filling of a post is affected,” said Zuma.
He said the verification included criminal record checks and citizenship verification.
“In cases where an applicant deliberately misrepresents their qualifications or withheld damaging information, such an act can establish acceptable grounds for the rejection of an application.
“All Public Servants are required to abide by the Code of Conduct.
“Failure to abide by the Code of Conduct results in disciplinary action and possible dismissal,” said Zuma.
He said matters such as the abuse of women, problematic tax affairs and the circumstances for leaving previous employment would be considered during criminal record checks, financial and assets records checks as well the previous employment verification.
Zuma told Independent Newspapers this week there was no reason why Jordan should resign from the party. He said there was nothing much Jordan could have done and that he made a mistake.