CT commissioner accused of employing friends in high-paying jobs

Cape Town - A Transport and Urban Development Authority portfolio committee meeting descended into a shouting match when the ANC accused the City of Cape Town’s transport commissioner of corruption and of employing friends in top positions.

ANC committee member Bheki Hadebe demanded answers after a dossier was sent to portfolio chairperson Anthony Moses, which contained allegations that commissioner Melissa Whitehead had appointed two “good friends” to fill high-paying vacancies.

The dossier, he said, had been compiled after city officials leaked information to the official opposition.

Hadebe brought out photographs, printed from Facebook, of Whitehead on an overseas holiday with a married couple in 2015.

“Two years later she appointed these friends [the married couple],” Hadebe said.

The woman was appointed as a portfolio manager in urban development investment on July 1, and her husband as a principal professional officer on August 1.

The woman earns R1.8m a year, while her husband earns more than R1m a year.

“A person who is on the same level as the wife, who has a master’s degree with more experience is earning less. Why?” he asked.

“This couple does not bring scarce skills.”

Administrative processes

Although the commissioner declared that she knew the candidates before their appointment, Hadebe pointed out that she had not clarified that they were “close friends”.

When the ANC attempted to debate the matter, Moses said the ANC had already written to the city manager to look into the allegations.

A heated shouting match ensued and Moses eventually issued a warning that, should order not be restored, enforcement agencies would be asked to remove the ANC from the chamber.

Mayoral Committee member for Transport and Urban Development Brett Herron accused the ANC of attempting to drive an agenda.

“The ANC wants to make allegations that policy was not followed. They have already written to the city manager and the city manager must deal with it, not the portfolio committee.”

But Hadebe told Moses that, at the last committee meeting, the chairperson had instructed the party to bring written proof of their allegations.

“You said you received my email. I gave you the content but you didn’t respond. The city manager is not in possession of [the dossier]. You are.”

Moses responded that administrative processes needed to be followed and that the portfolio committee was not the place to resolve it.

Due process was followed

When asked if she indeed knew the couple before their employment, Whitehead told News24 after the meeting that she knows "a lot of people prior” to being employed.

“You follow due process in terms of employment. There is a declaration process, and whenever I know somebody, it’s declared,” she said.

“It’s part... of the City of Cape Town’s processes. And all processes were followed in terms of what was required.”

Whitehead said she wasn’t part of the shortlisting process.

“I was in the interviews, but I declared it. I didn’t make the decision. The rest of the committee made the decision.”

Due process was followed, she insisted.

“The panel was appointed by the city manager, and it was defined in terms of due process that went to council. It was not determined by me.”

Hadebe, however, insisted that Whitehead should have recused herself.

The ANC said it would lay criminal charges and approach the Public Protector to investigate.

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