Cele’s dodgy appointments

2010-11-21 07:54

Police chief Bheki Cele is demolishing his top structure, creating a new layer of generals and ­moving senior officers without the required qualifications or ­experience into key portfolios.

Police insiders said this week Cele is actively sidelining senior staff perceived as loyalists of his predecessor, Jackie Selebi.
At the same time, Cele is promoting people loyal to him ­into a new superstructure called Office of the National ­Commissioner.

City Press can further reveal:

» Cele unilaterally appointed Lieutenant-General Bonang ­Mgwenya to the position of chief ­operating officer (COO) – effectively his number two – without advertising the job or interviewing any other candidates;

» Lieutenant-General Julius Molefe was appointed executive legal officer in Cele’s superstructure after the job was first ­advertised at the level of major-general, but then withdrawn;

» Major-General Julius Phahlane, the former divisional commissioner of personnel services, was moved sideways to head up the criminal records and forensic services department without any training or experience in the field; and

» Major-General Sean Tshabalala, the previous head of the VIP protection unit, was moved sideways to become head of the information and system management unit. Tshabalala has no background or qualifications in information technology.

Although Cele has wide-ranging powers to amend the ­structure of the SA Police ­Service (SAPS), it appears he flouted employment ­regulations in appointing Mgwenya and Molefe.

City Press recently revealed Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa amended the employment regulations, making it possible for Cele to appoint senior management staff without advertising positions outside of the SAPS.

But at the time Mgwenya and Molefe were promoted, the ­regulations still required Cele to advertise their posts ­“simultaneously inside and ­outside the service”.

A section of the employment regulations empowers Cele to make appointments without advertising, but only in ­“exceptional circumstances” that he has to record in writing.

Cele refused to respond in ­detail to City Press’s questions, merely stating through his spokesperson that he “has the prerogative” to appoint and ­reshuffle people “in the manner ­appropriate to the vision of ­improving service delivery”.

A series of official SAPS ­correspondence, in possession of City Press, suggests the police ­initially followed due process by advertising the COO and ­executive legal officer positions.

On October 5 last year, the ­executive legal officer job was advertised internally at the level of assistant commissioner with a remuneration package of R760 000 per year. In the same week, an advertisement for the job appeared in City Press.
Nine days later, the SAPS ­advertised the COO position ­internally at the level of deputy director-general – a post that pays about R1 million per year.

The job was never advertised outside the police as it should have been.

On April 15 this year, the advertisements for both positions were mysteriously withdrawn by the police. Four months later, Cele ­personally announced the ­appointment of Mgwenya as COO and Molefe as executive ­legal officer – both at the level of lieutenant general.

After Molefe’s position was ­initially advertised at an ­assistant commissioner level, Cele unilaterally upgraded the job with a rank.
Before her whopping promotion, Mgwenya served as an ­assistant commissioner in human resources, reporting to divisional commissioner Manoko Nchwe and deputy national ­commissioner Magda Stander.

A police insider said: “Her only experience is in personnel, she has no operational experience. With Cele being a politician and having no real knowledge of the police, how is she going to advise him and all those generals?”

Molefe was one of three assistant commissioners in the ­police’s legal department before his promotion. He reported to the ­divisional commissioner Lindiwe Mtimkulu before she was suspended in March this year. Molefe’s colleague, assistant commissioner Philip Jacobs, acted in Mtimkulu’s place, but was overlooked by Cele when he promoted Molefe.

Cele’s new top structure ­consists of six newly created ­positions on top of his five ­deputy national commissioners. Apart from Mgwenya and Molefe, four portfolios for ­efficiency services, communication and liaison, internal audit, and presidential protection must still be filled.

Cele has moved his new ­appointees from Wachthuis, the SAPS headquarters, to Maupa Naga, head office of the ­protection and security services unit in Sunnyside, Pretoria.

In August, former public works minister Geoff Doidge put the police’s R500-million leasing agreement for businessman Roux Shabangu’s Middestad building on hold pending a joint investigation by the Special ­Investigating Unit and Public Protector.

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