Senior municipal officials not vetted – report

2011-12-15 08:29

Some municipalities do not require security clearances for key senior positions such as chief financial officers and supply chain managers, a Public Service Commission (PSC) report has revealed.

Twelve of the 27 sampled municipalities indicated that the vetting process was only used for selected positions such as traffic officers, while the rest, including critical occupations, were neglected.

The PSC has warned that failure to vet applicants may prove costly in the event that appointments have to be reversed.

The assessment of recruitment practices focused on municipalities such as Cape Town, eThekwini, Nelson Mandela Bay and Tshwane, among others.

It says vetting applicants would ensure that employees of acceptable character and moral fibre are appointed, and has asked that this be made compulsory in all municipalities.

“Municipalities must ensure that verification of qualifications, reference checking and credit record checks are conducted prior to making any decisions on appointments,” the PSC recommends.

The report says due to rising unemployment some applicants may not resist the temptation to cheat their way into landing a top job.

“It is incumbent upon all organisations to be cautious by vetting candidates to reduce the chance of criminals infiltrating their organisations,” the PSC says.

The entity has also warned municipalities to ensure that those who sit in selection panels declare any potential conflict of interest.

It found that recruitment and selection policies of seven of the 27 municipalities were silent on the requirement to declare potential conflicts of interest.

The PSC had recommended that the co-operative governance and traditional affairs department develop recruitment and selection regulations to be applicable to all municipalities.

Samwu spokesperson Tahir Sema said many municipalities around the country have flagrantly flouted processes and procedures, especially when appointing people to key positions.

“This is why Samwu has requested that we have our shop stewards present in interview processes, particularly if it involves filling a strategic position,” he said.

Sema said the largest local government union’s presence in interview processes has introduced some kind of accountability but many municipalities still appointed whomever they want to whichever position and pay exorbitant salaries.

Samwu has also taken many irregular appointments to court and when elements outside the institution influence the process of appointing a particular candidate for their own business interests the union has objected and protested, according to Sema.

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