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Stellenbosch municipal director cleared after probe into job for unqualified candidate, R750K settlement

Good party secretary-general Brett Herron said the matter would be referred to the Office of the Public Protector. File picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Good party secretary-general Brett Herron said the matter would be referred to the Office of the Public Protector. File picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Published Feb 25, 2021


Cape Town – An independent investigation has cleared a former Stellenbosch municipality director of planning and development who removed a qualified coloured job applicant and replaced her with an unqualified white candidate for the job.

This despite the municipality being ordered to pay a settlement amount of R750 000 to Zenobia Campbell.

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She applied for two advertised positions in August 2016 and was shortlisted for both posts and interviewed on October 25, 2016, however, the position was given to a white female candidate who did not meet the requirement of the advertisement.

Campbell successfully challenged the municipality, with her advocate, Melanie Thorne, telling the Labour Court her client was subjected to unfair discrimination.

Thorne had argued that ignoring a signed Employment Equity Plan whereby Campbell was the preferred candidate for both the positions she applied for was unfair discrimination and in contravention of Section 6 of Employment Equity Act.

Good party secretary-general Brett Herron recently asked Local Government MEC Anton Bredell whether the director, whose name was not mentioned, was charged for the “fruitless and wasteful expenditure that this amount of R750 000 now represents”.

Bredell said an investigation conducted by an independent investigator in terms of the disciplinary regulations for senior managers found no evidence of misconduct on the part of the former director.

“In addition, according to the municipality the matter was also audited by the auditor-general and did not find it as part of section 32 of the Municipal Finance Management Act, 56 of 2003.”

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But Herron said a proper investigation was not done.

“The outcome cannot be that the right candidate was selected or the least qualified candidate was selected and there’s no misconduct. The misconduct is that the director breached the law, the law requires that a fair and transparent selection process is conducted and that there is a verifiable basis in selecting a candidate.

’’You have to take Employment Equity into account and if that process was not followed then there is wrongdoing,” he said.

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Herron said the matter would be referred to the office of the public protector.

Responding to the Cape Times yesterday, Stellenbosch Municipality spokesperson Stuart Grobbelaar said the matter was resolved years ago.

“This internal labour relations matter dates back to November 2016 and was resolved years ago. We have also provided comprehensive comment to your publication on this matter in the past.

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’’As we consider this matter completely resolved, we will not be providing any new comment and are in full agreement with the written reply provided by the Minister (Bredell).

“As stated in the past, the individual who made this appointment is a former employee, who hasn’t been in service of the municipality for more than three years,“ he said.

EFF provincial spokesperson Wandile Kasibe said: “We are of the view that this was wasteful and fruitless expenditure because if the recruitment process was conducted properly there would have been no need for a R750 000 payout settlement to the aggrieved applicant.

“We also find it strange that an investigation is conducted and that it exonerates people who are responsible for this waste of taxpayers' money. Why was an underqualified person accepted for a position that required a qualified applicant?’’

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Cape Times

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