The rot at Social Development

2011-07-25 00:00

EMPLOYEES of the KwaZulu-Natal Social Development Department have called on the department’s heads to fire four senior managers and an administration officer who have been fingered for improperly awarding tenders worth R50 million.

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) told The Witness that the five senior employees have been suspended for, among other things, fraud and corruption.

These managers, whose names are known to The Witness, work in the finance, human resource management, supply chain, asset management and the ministry sections.

Union sources in the Social Development Department and the provincial government, who wished not to be named for fear of victimisation, said the department seems reluctant to speed up the disciplinary hearings or arrests because the rot implicates a lot of senior people in the department.

The union has alleged, for example, that one of the suspended employees who works as a administration officer in the supply chain section has been suspended since November last year but still draws a salary.

This even after the disciplinary hearing that sat in April this year resolved to have her dismissed.

The officer has been charged with misconduct relating to being party to fraud and corruption within the department.

The Witness is in possession of documents from the disciplinary inquiry that sat in April in which the chairperson of the inquiry, whose name is known to the newspaper, recommended the administration officer’s dismissal.

The chairperson said, “A public servant who siphons taxpayers’ money is spitting in the face of the poor …

“The sanctions that we impose must send a strong and clear message to like-minded public servants that fraud and corruption do not pay.”

In a press statement Nehawu alleges that the R50 million that was inappropriately awarded through tenders was money allocated for programmes for preventing HIV and Aids , early childhood development, curbing substance abuse, creating sustainable livelihoods of poor communities, and grants and youth development.

The “soft” approach against the administration officer, said the union, is an indication that the department is “soft” on corruption.

“The fact that this [the dismissal] is not finalised would make it appear that the department is condoning corruption, since the person is on suspension since November 2010 …

“Nehawu demands that the sanction be implemented with immediate effect.”

The name of the union representative defending the actions of the administration officer in the disciplinary hearingis known to the newspaper.

He said: “[The employee] is a first-time offender; she is in a polygamous marriage and her misdemeanours should be understood within the context, which is that [she] did what she did in order to win the heart of her husband.”

If she were to be dismissed, said the union representative, “that would be tantamount to an economic death sentence”.

Nehawu also called for an internal investigation to be conducted by the provincial treasury into the R50 million allegedly siphoned off through fraud and corruption.

Social Development Department spokesperson Mandla Ngema said the disciplinary processes for the five suspended employees are continuing and that the union should be patient about the outcomes.

“They should adopt a wait-and-see stance to see how the disciplinary inquiries proceed,” said Ngema.

The union also alleges that personal assistants employed in the department in February were irregularly appointed over suitable and qualified candidates.

“The process mentioned above was found to be irregular, as Nehawu suspected, and the posts were decided to be re-advertised without taking corrective action against a senior manager in the human resource management,” said the union.

Ngema said no personal assistants have been employed and that he is also waiting for his personal assistant to be appointed.

corruption: ‘Soft’ approach spiting in the face of the poor, says Nehawu

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