Soldier promoted by court order
Johannesburg - A career soldier who has been on the same salary scale since 2006 has obtained a court order, forcing the Defence Force to promote him and adapt his salary level.
Pretoria High Court Judge Sullette Potterill ordered the minister of defence, chief of the SANDF and surgeon general to promote Lieutenant-Colonel Michael Joseph Carter, 59, to the rank of Colonel.
The judge also ordered that Carter be promoted to a higher salary level and be awarded nominal yearly promotions and increments backdated to October 2006.
Carter, who joined the defence force as a private in 1970, took his employer to court after being repeatedly overlooked for the post of Senior Staff Officer (SSO) Hospitality Services in favour of "less qualified" women.
Acted in position on numerous occasions
He said in court papers he had acted as SSO in the position on numerous occasions, and his name had been on all the succession plans for the post as a suitable candidate since 2004.
Two woman predecessors had also recommended him as the best man for the job, yet the post remained vacant for years and he never received any feedback when he applied.
Carter said a woman commander, whose highest educational qualification is Grade 12, was promoted to Captain to fill the post in 2008.
This was despite the fact that she had not been a commander for four years and did not have a National Diploma or equivalent qualification which the post demanded.
Carter's military qualifications include an SA Military Health Service Senior Management programme and he has a bachelor's degree and diploma in food technology.
He also developed various electronic systems to support the hospitality services environment in the SANDF, including a ration requirement system.
According to court papers, all attempts by Carter to lodge a grievance through the required channels were met with a stony silence.
He said the failure to promote him had already cost him over half a million rand and would have a huge effect on his pension.
The SANDF argued that Carter's lack of promotion was consistent with affirmative action measures.
The Director of Product Systems Support in the department of defence, Brigadier General Mondo Mbiza, said in an affidavit the prescribed requirements to be promoted to a higher rank included not only qualifications but also representation.
He said when a white woman was promoted to the post, he had called Carter and explained to him that the whole process "had to do with balancing the imbalances of the past".
"The applicant (Carter) could not just grab it, it was a political and constitutional imperative to prefer a woman over a man for the said post.
"There is no way the promotion (of the female officer) can be reversed," Mbiza said.