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Johannesburg - Limpopo Agriculture MEC Jacob Marule has been implicated in a “jobs for pals” scandal on a R1 million annual salary position.

Department officials claim the position of senior general manager for rural development and district services was earmarked to Marule’s alleged friend, Kgabo Masela.

Two officials in the department said the vacancy was created specifically for Masela after his ambition to become head of the department in July was frustrated. “Marule wanted this guy because they were together at the legislature,” said a source.

The position is said to be unfunded, and the sources allege that it had not been approved by the provincial human resource task team.

This would be a direct violation of the provincial treasury note, dated February this year, which states that all unfunded posts must be frozen.

“[The] filling of funded vacant positions are to be advertised ONLY after prior approval by the provincial HR task team responsible for reduction of compensation of employees by 2 percent as resolved by provincial Exco,” the note reads in part.

The new position pays more than that of the department’s chief financial officer. Even before the official appointment, Masela was said to be occupying a department office and was provided with a personal assistant. He denies this.

But when The Star phoned the department on Tuesday, an official, who identified herself only as Penny, said Masela was not in the office. “He does not come to the office often,” she said.

She tried unsuccessfully to get hold of a woman who she called Maria, who she said was Masela’s personal assistant in the department.

Another official, who identified herself as Juliet in the MEC’s office, said: “[Masela] is at the legislature.”

Masela denied he had been earmarked for the senior position. “I have not applied for that position. I had only applied for the HOD [head of department] position,” he said.

Masela is also accused of instructing the department’s senior managers. But he said he had phoned the senior managers because the MEC had asked him to proofread his speech.

“When proofreading the MEC’s speech, we had to correct certain data errors. I even used his phone to call some of those managers,” Masela said.

He was also implicated in the suspension of Phuthi Dipela, a department official who had been accused of interfering with the awarding of tenders.

“The MEC is the one who suspended him. Actually, he wanted [Dipela] to go, but I said ‘don’t fire him, procedures must be followed’,” said Masela. Dipela refused to comment on Tuesday.

Masela said the MEC had wanted to appoint him as his adviser, but he had turned down the offer.

Marule could not be reached for comment.

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The Star