EFF interrupts Tshwane sitting to demand dismissal of staffer in qualifications scandal

The EFF in Tshwane interrupted a mayoral committee sitting on Wednesday, calling for the immediate dismissal of the City's chief of staff Marietha Aucamp, who has been embroiled in a qualifications scandal.

City of Tshwane spokesperson Selby Bokaba confirmed that members of the EFF walked in on a mayoral committee sitting and requested a meeting with Tshwane Mayor Solly Msimanga.

EFF Tshwane chairperson Benjamin Disoloane in a statement said that members of the EFF staged a peaceful protest at the sitting to demand Aucamp's immediate dismissal.  

"We vehemently reject the decision by the executive mayor to place Ms Aucamp on special leave. We demand her immediate dismissal and that she pays back the salary that she has received from September 2016 until now," said Disoloane.

READ: Tshwane mayor hired chief of staff without required qualifications 

"We have on several occasions in the council raised complaints about Ms Aucamp and MMC (member of the mayoral committee) Cilliers Brink. We questioned why Ms Aucamp was allowed to sit and chair committees which did not fall under her responsibility. 

"Moreover, we raised concerns when the new macro structure proposed that Ms Aucamp must no longer report directly to the city manager, who is the accounting officer of the municipality and in charge of its administration, and all employees of the municipality are accountable to the city manager in line with the Municipal Systems Act."

Special leave

Disoloane said this amounted to an illegal attempt to allow Aucamp to report directly to Msimanga, and that it was a clear indication of the DA administration undermining the City manager.

"In our view, Ms Aucamp was appointed without qualifications as chief of staff in the mayor's office purely on the basis that she is white and a former chief whip of the DA in council in order to monitor and micro manage the executive mayor together with her ally, MMC Cilliers Brink."

The EFF has also called on Msimanga to immediately remove Brink and suspend the officials in the HR department who were involved in the hiring of Aucamp.

On Wednesday the City of Tshwane placed Aucamp on special leave while it investigates her appointment and qualifications she listed on an assessment form for the position.

News24 reported that Aucamp was appointed to the position, in which she earns an annual salary of R1.2m, even though she did not have the required qualifications.

Bokaba said Msimanga had instituted an investigation into the matter.

Highest score in interview

"The executive mayor has requested the city manager to conduct an urgent investigation into this matter and Aucamp has since been placed on special leave," Bokaba said.

He said Aucamp applied for the job and was shortlisted for the vacant position in October 2016. She was selected "as the most suitable candidate for appointment".

"She came out highest on the panel members' scores. The panel members consisted of the executive mayor, MMC for corporate and shared services councillor Cilliers Brink and former acting city manager Ms Lindiwe Kwele," Bokaba said.

"It sounds illogical and irrational for any applicant who was shortlisted, interviewed and scored highest in the interview as well as in the assessment, to claim to possess qualifications she didn't have.

"While it's advantageous for the candidate to be in possession of the required qualification it, however, doesn't preclude a candidate in the political office to be considered for the position without having the relevant qualification, as what is required is experience and grasp of local government."

He said Aucamp had 16 years of managerial experience.

Aucamp, in a scant one-and-a-half-page CV, does not state her qualifications. She only states that she was acting chief of staff in Msimanga's office and that she previously worked as the chief whip of the DA in the Tshwane metro.  

Her references include the DA's federal chairperson James Selfe.

In what is referred to as the "assessment centre personal information sheet", dated October 10, 2016, it is stated that Aucamp has a B-Tech.

It is unclear who filled out the form but when asked, Aucamp could not explain to News24 why that was included on the sheet. "I have, as per my application, only provided my highest acknowledged qualifications as was submitted to HR on the request of the city manager. I have not lied. I have not pretend [sic] to have a B Tech qualification because it is simply untrue," Aucamp said.

The job advert required that the candidates have a bachelor's degree or equivalent qualification.

Aucamp claims that she applied for the job anyway because of the waiver provision.

However, the City of Tshwane's failure to apply for a waiver for Aucamp is in contravention of the Local Government Act, which demands that municipalities apply for a waiver from the minister of co-operative governance if a potential employee does not have suitable qualifications.

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