Minister of Human Settlements Mmamoloko Kubayi says they will soon begin to implement the decision of the Labour Court that set aside the appointment of nine officials who were irregularly appointed by a senior official.
Kubayi said the judgment has given them the opportunity to fix the things that are wrong in the department.
The Labour Court found that Deputy Director-General for Corporate Services, Nelly Letsholonyane had not followed processes when she appointed nine people permanently in the department.
In the judgment, the court found that in 2009 the Department of Human Settlements hired 18 call centre operators to work at their call centre to deal with housing beneficiaries.
This was a fixed contract of one year, but the contract was extended for an extended period of time. Later, the department found there was not much work to be done and it closed down the call centre. There were also budgetary constraints.
When the dispute resolution body, the Community Schemes Ombudsman Service, was set up, the department absorbed nine of the former call centre operators.
The other nine people remained within the department. In 2017 the department found that they could not hire the nine people permanently, as their positions were not on the approved structure of the department, said the court.
In the meeting of 2018, it was resolved by the department that the nine people will not be permanently appointed.
The Director-General of the department received a note in January 2019 that confirmed that the nine people would not be permanently employed, but Letsholonyane had already employed them permanently.
The Director-General referred the matter to the Public Service Commission to act against Letsholonyane, which found that her actions were irregular and must be set aside.
The Minister of Human Settlements also sought legal advice on the matter in 2019.
The department started preparing to file papers in court to set aside the decision by Letsholonyane.
The court found that the employment of the nine people was irregular and was set aside.
“The appointments of the PLOs (public liaison officers) by the first respondent (Letsholonyane) constitute illegality and cannot stand. There is no evidence of any legal expectation ever created that the PLOs would be permanently employed within the department,” said the court.
In the order, it said it sets aside the decision to appoint the nine people.
“The decision of the first respondent to permanently appoint the second to ninth respondents is declared irregular and unlawful. The permanent appointment of second to ninth respondents by the first respondent is reviewed and set aside for want of legality,” said the court.
The Labour Court said Letsholonyane had no powers to effect the appointments.
Kubayi said on Tuesday they welcome the judgment of the court and will begin to implement it.
“It is my belief that we are on the path to restoring the credibility of the department and ensuring that all public servants understand that compliance with policies and prescripts within public service is not optional. We are playing our part in professionalisation of the public service,” said Kubayi.
She said the appointments were done by Letsholonyane without approval from the Director-General or the Minister.