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Seta chiefs under fire over claims of maladministration

2019-06-05 13:30

Before leaving office former higher education minister Naledi Pandor had instructed the Services sector education and training authority (Seta) board to institute a forensic probe following maladministration allegations in the sector.

This was as a result of unsatisfactory responses she had received from the Seta after a preliminary report released by the National Skills Authority (NSA), an advisory body to Pandor, into the affairs of the Seta in September last year.

Pandor has since been appointed minister of international relations and cooporation, with Blade Nzimande becoming the new minister of higher education, science and technology.

When contacted for comment about the findings and recommendations of the NSA preliminary report last week, the Seta dismissed the NSA report as having no “probable value”.

This week Pandor’s spokesperson, Lunga Ngqengelele, told City Press that the minister wrote to the Seta requesting responses to a number of allegations levelled against it after she received the NSA preliminary report.

He said the minister had since received a report from the Services Seta accounting authority responding to all the allegations. However, she had instructed it to conduct forensic investigations into some allegations which she said had not been satisfactorily answered.

He said the outcome of the forensic investigation would allow Pandor to decide on whether she would be required to “start the process outside the board”.

Ngqengelele said the NSA was in the process of finalising its investigation.

Besides the forensic investigation to be instituted by the board, Ngqengelele said Pandor would wait for the NSA’s final report, which would be submitted to her as soon as the investigation was concluded by mid-July.

The 20-page NSA preliminary report made the following recommendations, among others:

. That further investigations were required regarding the scores that were awarded to Seta’s chief executive officer, Amanda Buzo-Gqoboka, while she was the executive manager for legal services. The allegation being investigated by the NSA was that she was awarded a performance bonus in excess of R400 000 last year. The report found that the motivation for scores awarded was not reflected on the performance appraisal document.

“The impartiality of the members of the performance moderation committee should be explored as it appears from documents provided that fair process may not have been followed in awarding the executive manager: legal a performance bonus,” the report said; and

. That the accounting authority should be requested to provide reasons for departing from the job requirement criteria for the appointment of some executive managers, such as the executive manager of legal and executive manager in the office of the chief executive officer, and that the minutes in which the decisions were taken should be obtained.

“The accounting authority should be requested to provide answers about why the position of executive manager: office of the chief executive officer and senior manager: legal were advertised only internally, contrary to clause 5.4 of the Services Setas recruitment and section policy,” the report said.

That clause states that these positions should have been advertised both internally and externally. The report further found that according to the letter by the accounting authority to the President (Cyril Ramaphosa), the realignment of head of legal services did not carry any financial impact. “However, there appears to be some merit in the allegations of executive managers being appointed without meeting the requirements and further investigations may be required,” the report said.

Nompilo Sidondi, legal services acting executive manager, who responded on behalf of the Seta and implicated individuals last week, said there “was, and is, in short no probative value that can be attached to the preliminary report, save for the fact that it recommended further investigation”.

She said they responded in detail to the report, and those replies were forwarded to Pandor for consideration.

“Suffice it to say that all preliminary views in respect of which concerns or issues were raised have been appropriately responded to with the necessary evidence provided to definitively address and correct any preliminary view which suggested or raised any concerns relating to the Services Seta and its management,” Sidondi said.

Since the release of the preliminary report, NSA spokesperson Fhedzisani Mashau said the authority had been engaging the Seta and collecting information to inform its investigation.

“The NSA is in the process of finalising its investigation into the affairs of the Seta. The NSA is an advisory body to the minister and as such, provides its reports and advice to the minister. The minister wrote to the Seta accounting authority instructing it to respond to a number of allegations against the Seta,” Mashau said.

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November 10 2019