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Concern over eThekwini Municipality’s vetting of staff, report shows some were hired without qualifications being checked

An aerial view of the city hall building in Durban

Questions have been raised about the vetting of staff hired in the eThekwini Municipality. File Picture: Khaya Ngwenya African News Agency (ANA).

Published Jun 13, 2023


Durban - A report by the Audit Committee looking into the employment processes in the eThekwini Municipality has revealed that more than 50% of a sample of staff in the metro were hired without their qualifications being verified.

The report tabled before the members of the Municipal Public Accounts Committee last week has sparked outrage, with councillors in the committee stating that the incompetence of the previous administration ran deep.

Under the headline “Skills audit”, the review process found that employee qualifications were not always verified before the conclusion of the appointment process.

It said that in a sample of 60 employees, 31 (52%) were appointed without confirmation that their qualifications submitted were valid and legitimate, and that some employee verification results had been pending for more than three years.

It also found that some job descriptions were vague and lacking in proper specifications, and that 22 out of 60 job descriptions (37%) were without specific qualifications.

It found that some employees had lesser qualifications than the job required. The revelations come as a senior staffer has been embroiled in a debacle involving her qualifications. Deputy city manager and head of human resources, Kim Makhathini, is under scrutiny after her qualifications were called into question.

Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda revealed last week that the City would launch an investigation into Makhathini’s qualifications and would write to her asking her to give reasons why she should not be suspended while the investigation was pending.

ActionSA councillor Alan Beesley described the situation as shocking.

“ActionSA has serious concerns with the above. First, it allows the political elite to parachute friends, family and ‘comrades’ into key positions in the municipality without being suitably qualified. A central policy of the ANC is to ensure that its members are deployed at all levels of government, including local government. The failure of the municipality to ensure suitably qualified employees are appointed allows this ANC policy of deployment to flourish.”

Secondly, Beesley said, the appointment of non-suitably qualified employees had a direct impact on service delivery. He said service delivery was at an all-time low, with the Audit Committee Report noting that the City had only achieved 22% of its key performance indicators as service delivery continued to deteriorate.

“If the City is to improve its service delivery, it is crucial that suitably qualified people are employed within the municipality. The residents and businesses of eThekwini are taking strain on many fronts, and it is imperative that those running the City are qualified to do so,” the ActionSA councillor said.

He said there was a lack of political will by the ANC/EFF-led coalition to change the trajectory of how the municipality was run.

“ActionSA will continue to raise this matter and ensure that the municipality appoints suitably qualified employees. The residents and business must be put first, and service delivery prioritised,” he said.

The chairperson of the committee, Thami Xuma, said it was clear there were deep problems and incompetencies under the previous administration.

He said even the explanation given as to why this was allowed to happen sounded nonsensical.

“They said if the person is hired and it is later discovered that they do not have the necessary qualifications, they will be sanctioned. They are doing this backwards, that is why we as the committee have summoned the head of human capital to appear before us to explain this. We want to know how many people they have let go after discovering they did not have the required qualifications.”

Michael Maeso, the head of Employment Law at Shepstone & Wylie, said verifying qualifications should not take long as universities have that information on file.

He said that while it might take a bit longer to confirm an overseas qualification, waiting for three years, for example, was a long period.

Municipal spokesperson Lindiwe Khuzwayo said the municipality was faced with a challenge of not having a service provider in place to verify the qualifications.

“The report is correct. The City did not have a service provider to verify the qualifications, and one has since been appointed to complete verifications by June 2023 (this month).

“Letters issued during the time when there was no contract in place have a resolutive clause that should the incumbent’s qualifications not be verified, services will be terminated. All human capital practitioners have been notified to clear the backlog,” she said.