New city boss has ‘dodgy’ qualification

East London’s newly appointed city boss has some explaining to do over an alleged “fake” qualification.

Andile Fani, the Buffalo City metropolitan municipality’s new municipal manager, is embroiled in a scandal over qualifications for the coveted job.

Fani was appointed on a anti-corruption ticket.

He was appointed as permanent city boss on Monday, ending an almost four-year situation of acting city managers at the municipality. 

It now seems corners were cut for his appointment. 

The SACP has been a strong supporter of Fani’s appointment.

The qualification in question is a certificate in municipal finance management – a requirement from the National Treasury from 2013. It set him apart from other candidates, according to a confidential council report.

But the Local Government Seta and the South Africa Qualifications Authority (Saqa) have distanced themselves from the qualification. 

After a fact-finding meeting with Kgolo Institute in Gauteng – which issued the certificate – the Seta said Fani could be cleared of any wrongdoing, saying Kgolo had not advised him properly. 

Valentia Mashigo of the Seta said her organisation and Saqa did not endorse the certificate, which nullifies it, because Fani’s results were not verified and he had three outstanding core courses to complete. 

“We won’t take responsibility for this because there is no record of learner achievement. And there is no confirmation of moderated results. This does not appear on the national learner records database,” she said.

The Seta is the institution that accredits service providers that provide training, and also does quality assurance. Before adding that Kgolo was not allowed to print the certificate itself, Mashigo also said the identity number of the certificate did not match the level on the certificate. 

Kgolo Institute chief executive Mike Makgatho said there had been a misunderstanding that led to them issuing the certificate. 

City Press understands from interview panellists that major compromises were made to accommodate Fani, who has been acting municipal manager since November 2010. 

According to City Press’ sources, the panel shortlisted Fani – the former health department chief of staff – knowing he did not have the certificate.

Fani’s first interview was scheduled for early January, but moved to January 16 when he still couldn’t produce the certificate.
When the panel did see the certificate, it was an uncertified copy.

Buffalo City’s deputy mayor and chairman of the interviewing panel, councillor Mzwandile Msoki, said the panel requested an independent document authentification company to run verifications on various elements of all candidates. 

“The (qualification), as the rest of the elements, was found to be in order. The qualification in question was verified by independent issuing authorities. The institution has no grounds to doubt the validity of the data check report,” he said. 

On reasons for shortlisting Fani while he did not have the certificate, Msoki quoted section 33 of the Constitution, saying: “The decision to provisionally shortlist the candidate was based on the constitutional provision that everyone has a right to an administrative action that is lawful, reasonable and procedurally fair.” 

Mayor Zukiswa Ncitha and ANC convenor to the Buffalo City region Mzolisi Dimaza also distanced themselves from the process, with Ncitha saying: “If they failed to check authenticity, then they are accountable to council.” 

Dimaza, who visited the ANC caucus before the council meeting on Monday and told councillors to toe the party line and vote for Fani, said he would look into the claims.

When approached for comment, Fani said: “Write what you want to write please.” He then hung up.

DA member on the panel, Kevin Mileham, said the panel worked with what was before it. 

“When a question was raised (over the uncertified copy) we were assured any problems would be uncovered by the vetting process (by the State Security Agency) which would take place after an appointment was made.

“My position would be, if there is any problem with his qualification, his appointment must be set aside. There needs to be a verification of this as soon as possible.”

Another councillor raised issue with the fact that the 91-page report proposing the appointment was only presented to them at the start of the meeting.

Fani, who has diplomas in public management and law, as well as a certificate in local government, was one of five people shortlisted out of 39 applications. Of the applicants, four candidates have doctorates and 10 have master’s degrees in either public or business administration. 

Other candidates on the shortlist were:
» Luzuko Mdunyelwa, who holds a master’s degree in public administration, and master of philosophy in urban design and management;

» Lionel Errol Pienaar, a law graduate who also holds a diploma from the Institute of Town Clerks; and 

» Rio Phila Nolutshungu, a Bachelor of Administration graduate.

PricewaterhouseCoopers did psychometric assessments on all candidates. Fani scored the highest.

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