Previn Govender. Picture: Supplied
Previn Govender. Picture: Supplied

Mkhwebane orders Tshwane to set aside appointment of Previn Govender

By Zelda Venter Time of article published Dec 22, 2020

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Pretoria - Public Protector Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane yesterday ordered the City of Tshwane to review and set aside the appointment of Previn Govender as head of Tshwane Emergency Services.

In addition, the metro must take steps and initiate a process of recovering a proportionate and reasonable portion of the amount of salary and benefits paid to Govender since his appointment.

On October 31, 2019, council took a resolution that his contract be terminated with immediate effect based on the forensic report that he didn’t meet the requirements for his job.

At the time, the City appointed divisional chief of fire and rescue operations Moshema Mosia to take over as head of the department in an acting capacity in place of Govender, who has been on special leave since then.

Mkhwebane found that the appointment of Govender was irregular as he did not have the required qualifications for the position.

While the City of Tshwane turned a blind eye to the fact that he was not qualified, Govender will have to face a cut in salary as well as disciplinary proceedings. A new emergency chief, if still necessary, must be appointed.

The job advert stipulated that the applicant had to have a relevant bachelor degree or an equivalent qualification. Govender got the job despite the fact that he did not have these qualifications. His highest qualification is an Associate Diploma in Fire Technology.

Mkhwebane said this had neither a bachelor degree nor an equivalent qualification.

She found that the employment contract entered into between Govender and the City of Tshwane was thus null and void in terms of the Municipal Systems Act because he was appointed to the post without being in possession of the prescribed qualification.

“The insertion by Mr Govender in the application for employment at City of Tshwane form and the CV reflected that his qualification was Advanced (Associate) Diploma in Fire Technology equivalent (NQF 7) while being aware that it was not, was manifestly incorrect, false, misleading and constituted an act of misrepresentation,” the findings read.

She said the selection panel overlooked the verification report which picked up material discrepancies and misrepresentation on the information submitted by Govender relating to his qualification.

Yet, she said, the panel proceeded with the recruitment and selection process as if all was above board.

His appointment was for five years, ending July 31, 2022, at an annual salary of between R1 219 663 to R1 829 495 per annum.

“The salary paid to Govender from August 2017 to date constitutes unlawful enrichment as he was not qualified for appointment in the post of chief of emergency,” the report read.

Mkhwebane added that the salary paid to Govender from August 2017 to date, while he was not qualified for appointment in the post, constituted fruitless and wasteful expenditure on the part of the City of Tshwane.

“In the circumstances, I find that the appointment of Mr Govender in the post of chief of emergency was irregular, unlawful and thus constituted improper conduct as envisaged by section 182(1)(a) of the Constitution, 1996 and maladministration as envisaged by section 6(4)(a)(i) of the Public Protector Act,1994.”

As part of her remedial action, she called on the MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Lebogang Maile to consider the report, and where appropriate take steps within 14 days to remedy the maladministration and improper conduct identified therein.

The Tshwane metro council was called upon to take cognisance of the findings of the report as it relates to the irregularities in the recruitment and selection of senior managers accountable to the municipal manager that may occur in future relating to the recruitment, selection and appointment of senior managers accountable to the municipal manager.

The municipal manager must meanwhile take steps and initiate disciplinary process against Govender as provided for in the Labour Relations Act.

Mkhwebane said steps must be taken, including legal action, to review and set aside the appointment of Govender. The City must also take steps and initiate a process of recovering a proportionate and reasonable portion of the amount of salary and benefits paid to Govender.

The City was told to recruit a suitably qualified person for the post should there still a need to fill the vacancy.

Mkhwebane meanwhile demanded a full report as to how her remedial action was being implemented. She pointed out that her report was legally binding on the City of Tshwane unless a court order directed otherwise.

Pretoria News

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