Mpumalanga Premier Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane has terminated the recruitment process of traffic cops’ learnership after finding out that it was procedurally flawed.
Her decision comes after the EFF laid charges against officials in the department of community safety, security and liaison and Mtshweni-Tsipane’s office for corruption due to the fact that they allegedly hired their own children and relatives to undergo the programme. A total of 97 young people were selected for the course.
EFF provincial chairperson Collen Sedibe has also alleged that officials in Mtshweni-Tsipane’s office manipulated the process to benefit their own relatives.
However, department spokesperson Moeti Mmusi last week denied that the process was flawed.
“All the due processes were followed and the selected young men and women went through a rigorous selection programme that entailed writing tests and practical driving tests. The process was conducted by the department and there was no political interference, as has been insinuated on social media,” Mmusi said.
He said unsuccessful applicants were rejected because they failed the tests, did not have a Grade 12 certificate, driving licences or had criminal records.
Mtshweni-Tsipane said that she was disappointed that proper due diligence had not been done.
“With this in mind and considering that the 2021 intake of students was a disproportionate reflection of the geographic make-up of Mpumalanga, I’ve come to the conclusion that the process undertaken by the department was procedurally and fatally flawed,” Mtshweni-Tsipane said.
“As a result, the process in its entirety has been nullified and will recommence with proper and effective due diligence that will be overseen and verified by independent recruitment specialists. In essence, all 32 000 applicants will undergo the process of evaluation,” she said.
Sedibe warned that the police investigation would reveal that even officials in Mtshweni-Tsipane’s office manipulated the process to benefit their wives and children.
“It’s still early, but that information will come up,” he said.
However, Mtshweni-Tsipane’s spokesperson, Sibongile Mkani-Mpolweni, said the office of the premier had not been involved in the intake of the trainees.
“The department was involved, not the premier’s office. That’s why the premier nullified the process,” she said.
A political test for Mtshweni-Tsipane
This recruitment has presented Mtshweni-Tsipane with a political challenge. One of her close associates said she might have to take drastic measures to prove that she was in charge of the province.
“Certain politicians forwarded the names of their own people to gain influence and favour on the ground. This matter is more political for the premier than anything else,” he said.
Placements like these are often used in the province to benefit ANC cadres at branch level. It remains to be seen, however, whether Mtshweni-Tsipane, who is facing a tough challenge in her job, will act against senior ANC comrades if they are found to have taken part in the flawed process.