First Gupta tender, now North West head of health faces questions over CV

Dr Thabo Lekalakala. Picture: Reginald Kanyane
Dr Thabo Lekalakala. Picture: Reginald Kanyane

The spotlight is back on Dr Thabo Lekalakala, the man whose signature sealed the transaction which later became the dubiously awarded tender to Gupta-linked company Mediosa.

This time the questions were about how Lekalakala landed the top job as head of the North West health department.

Chairperson of the provincial legislature portfolio committee on health and social development, Madoda Sambatha, said it was not true that Lekalakala ever occupied the position of chief director as stated in his application form.

Without saying that he could have possibly misled the selection process with this information, the committee focused more on the fact that chief director only appears on his Z83 job application form but nowhere in his CV.

Sambatha, however, seemed confident as he repeatedly said “we know” that Lekalakala was never a chief director as claimed in his papers.

The committee asked for documents supporting Lekalakala’s application for the job and his subsequent appointment as head of the department(HOD) after what they said was their “exposure to management failures and weaknesses in the department”.

Lekalakala was recently placed on leave after the City Press exposé on Mediosa’s R180 million contract in which the company was paid R30 million in advance before they started doing any work.

He is also the signatory to tenders including the usage of privately-owned ambulances costing the state millions every month while brand new ones owned by the department were parked in the sun without registration plates.

After they were furnished with among others Lekalakala’s CV, Z83 form and vacancy advert, the committee raised issues around what appeared to be some inconsistencies.

The advert was clear that the candidate sought was required to have among others “at least 5 years work experience as a senior manager in health environment at a level of chief director”.

In his Z83 form, Lekalakala who qualified as a medical doctor more than two decades ago, wrote under work experience that he was a “CD” which the committee understood to stand for “chief director” from November 2007 to June 2014 at the national health department.

This was the position he claimed to have occupied when he applied for the head of department (HOD) position advertised in May 2014.

What raised eyebrows, however, was that this information was not reflected in his CV.

The last entry under work experience in his CV attached to his application for the HOD position was that he was a “Director Capital Planning since October 2004”.

He went on to describe his roles under this position including that he “initiated a coaching and mentoring programme for all CEOs in South Africa due to be launched in 2014”. The word “CD” or chief director is found nowhere in his colourful CV.

Also appearing on his Z83 but omitted on his CV was the name of Dr LK Sebego as a “previous supervisor” under his references.

LK Sebego is understood to be the North West government director-general Lydia Keneilwe Sebego who in January came to Lekalakala’s defence in a statement released by the provincial government after “some individuals took to social media attacking Lekalakala for being appointed as head of department while not meeting minimum requirements ... (and) also accuse him of not having experience in senior management”.

Although it was not clear if Sebego was called as one of the references, she said in the statement that “Lekalakala was found to be fit and proper for the post and met all the minimum requirements for the post both in terms of qualifications and experience. He is a seasoned administrator with a wealth of experience in health and well-qualified for the post”.

Meanwhile, City Press has seen a letter to North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo from health MEC Dr Magome Masike in which the latter listed people he recommended for the panel to interview, including Lekalakala and others for the HOD position.

In another letter, Mahumapelo replied with his final names for the panel which were mostly different to those Masike had suggested.

When asked about this, Mahumapelo’s spokesperson said the premier and Masike met on Wednesday and decided the latter would respond to the issue.

In his response, Masike said: “As MEC of health I want to put on record that the discussions on recommendations of panels of MECs for HOD interviews are always discussed and agreed to mutually with the Premier. In the instance of HOD for health the same principle applied and as MEC I have never had an issue with it.”

Meanwhile on Wednesday, the committee demanded that the department bring them competency test results for Lekalakala and other candidates he contested.

They also asked for his security clearance which Sambatha said he knew was not there or implied it was never done. The department was expected back before the committee on Thursday or Friday. Attempts to reach Lekalakala were unsuccessful with his phone off on Wednesday.

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