The North West MEC for Arts, Culture, Sports and Recreation, Galebekwe Tlhapi. Picture: Facebook.
The North West MEC for Arts, Culture, Sports and Recreation, Galebekwe Tlhapi. Picture: Facebook.

Acting NW head of department illegally installed - Nehawu

By Rapula Moatshe Time of article published May 10, 2021

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The North West MEC for Arts, Culture, Sports and Recreation, Galebekwe Tlhapi, is on a collision course with Nehawu over allegations that she hired her chief of staff Hendrick Metsileng as the acting head of department (HOD), disregarding public service regulations barring contracted workers from acting in permanent positions.

The union has also accused Tlhapi of having unilaterally roped in Metsileng as department head against the public service regulation empowering Premier Job Mokgoro to make such appointments.

Branch secretary at the department Tshepo Makobo said the position of chief of staff was regarded as a contract post, as it was linked to the MEC’s political office term.

“In terms of public service regulations you can’t appoint somebody who is not permanent in the public service to come and act in a permanent position. We regard the chief of staff as a political position, which is not permanent,” Makobo told the Pretoria News.

He also charged that the appointment was signed off by Tlhapi while the “understanding is that the appointment should be done by the premier”.

He said the union tried in vain to seek clarity from the MEC or Metsileng about the appointment “hence we went to issue a media statement”.

Metsileng was appointed to the position after the contract of former HOD Nono Bapela expired on April 30.

Nehawu also questioned why the two chief directors for arts and culture and sports and recreation, respectively, were not appointed to the position.

Tlhapi quashed the claim that Metsileng was appointed on contract in her office, saying: “Mr Metsileng is not appointed on contract in the office of the MEC. He is substantively appointed by as a director in the North West Department of Health but seconded to the Department of Arts, Culture, Sports and Recreation.”

She insisted the appointment was made by Mokgoro, not herself.

“The letter signed by the MEC is the one that informs staff and stakeholders about the appointment of the acting HOD,” Tlhapi said.

The Pretoria News contacted Mokgoro’s spokesperson, Vuyisile Ngesi, on Friday for comment, but he was not available on his cellphone. He did not respond to an SMS sent to him.

Regarding the accusation that the two chief directors in the department were overlooked and the concern that the move stunted internal growth of employees, Tlhapi said: “When appointing the acting HOD, due consideration was taken to ensure continuous implementation of programmes by those chief directors.

Tlhapi rejected claims by Makobo that efforts made by the union to get answers from her with regard to the suitability of Metsileng were unsuccessful, challenging him to produce evidence of Nehawu’s efforts to get answers from her. She said she was “shocked to see a media statement by Nehawu without them having the decency to seek responses” from her.

Tlhapi said she had, however, called a meeting with representatives of unions last Monday to clarify their concerns.

Regarding the recruitment process never embarked upon some months before the former HOD’s contract ended, she said: “The recruitment process is a joint process between the Office of the Premier and the department. Tlhapi wrote a letter to the Premier’s office last year requesting the process for appointment be initiated “to avoid a vacuum when the contract of the HOD ends”.

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