Stories about the manipulation of job interview processes in the public sector are as common as they are old.
The Public Service Commission (PSC) has reported on thousands of such cases and it is likely to get worse, given the growing unemployment numbers throughout the country.
Thousands of qualified people apply for jobs in the public sector every day, but the reality is that if you are not connected, the chances of making it are slim because it has become easy, looking at the recent PSC report on the manipulation of senior management appointments, for those in charge of the candidate selection processes to cook the outcomes from the first short-listing steps.
In some cases, manipulation takes the form of making an unlucky candidate’s documents “disappear”.
Thereafter, there is a lot of sophisticated coordination and closing of ranks among those involved.
By and large, it is impossible to tell, throughout the three spheres of government, who was or was not appointed credibly, unless there are complaints.
Most posts in government require generic administration skills and qualifications that are too easy to acquire, even through random short courses.
Only candidates who compete for posts requiring specialised knowledge have the best chance of making it.
The rest are at the mercy of nepotistic tendencies.
In Mpumalanga, a story is told about a government communicator who was given an unfair advantage and when allegations of this came out, he was simply shifted to a different department.
It was not until the workers in the second department reported the matter to the PSC that his appointment as a public servant was nullified, because he was no longer in political office.
In some instances, trade union leaders are involved in their own employment and promotion schemes.
Where the PSC falls short is in not having a mechanism to police the implementation of its recommendations.
It relies on administrative or political heads to do the right thing, but reports are more often than not swept under the carpet.
What the commission should be looking at is greater transparency in the selection processes of high-paying positions, just as the Gauteng government plans to do with the open tender system.
In this way, at least a degree of objectivity would be enforced.