Fani games: E Cape is up to the neck in headless department crisis
Eastern Cape premier Phumulo Masualle has failed to appoint a head of department for rural development and agrarian reform (DRDAR) despite having been advised to do so by an interviewing panel led by three MECs.
Three Eastern Cape departments – DRDAR, public works, and safety and liaison – have been operating without permanent heads of departments for several months. The safety and liaison department has been without a permanent HOD since February 2017.
Interviews for the rural development and agrarian reform post were conducted in August last year. SACP regional executive member and rural development and agrarian reform chief-of-staff Andile Fani was recommended by the panel.
However, Masualle was not happy with the candidate recommended by the interviewing panel and did not appoint Fani. Former Eastern Cape safety and liaison head Ngaka Mosehana was also recommended for the post on condition that Fani declined the appointment.
The premier and Fani are believed to be in different camps in the ANC.
MEC for rural development Xolile Nqatha chaired the panel, and was assisted by late education MEC Mandla Makhupula, public works MEC Pemmy Majodina and provincial director-general Marion Mbina-Mthembu.
The premier’s spokesperson, Sizwe Kupelo, said Masualle did not appoint the three HODs to give the new administration that will come in after the elections to make its own appointments.
“On DRDAR, the premier reserves the right not to fill the post and due to the fact that the term is coming to an end he took a conscious decision not fill the post and allow the incoming administration to handle the matter to ensure political/administrative interface. We are not aware of the legal opinion as there was no need for one as the decision was not taken on the merits of the interviews but the logical process,” Kupelo said.
According to a source with knowledge of the process, Masualle was not happy with the candidate recommended by the interviewing panel and sought legal opinion.
The source said the legal opinion advised Masualle to appoint Fani.
Fani confirmed he applied for the position and was interviewed with three other candidates.
“A month after the interviews, I was called to undergo a vetting process and a psychometric test. I passed the psychometric test but was not officially given the vetting results. It’s now January. We haven’t received any correspondence from the office of the premier. This is just beyond bad administration. In a normal environment we were supposed to at least received letters informing us if we were successful or not,” Fani said.
The safety and liaison department in the Eastern Cape has been operating without a permanent head of department, apparently because the position has not been advertised. Zukile Kani has been acting safety and liaison HOD since February 2017.
Mahlubandile Qwase has been acting in the position at public works after the contract of advocate James Mlawu expired in June, while Leon Coetze has been acting at rural development after Lumkile Ngada left at the end of September 2017 when his contract expired.
Safety and liaison MEC Weziwe Tikana blamed Masualle for her department not having an HOD because he had not authorised the filling of the post.
Responding to parliamentary questions from DA MPL Bobby Stevenson, Tikana said: “The premier has not yet given approval for the filling of the post. The office of the premier is responsible for the process of filling posts for HODs, and the premier has not yet authorised this as yet.”
Fani is not new to controversy.
Last May, the Daily Dispatch reported there was discontent over attempts to raise his salary from about R800,000 (on level 13) to about R1.2m on a level 14 appointment.
Ngada, then head of department, raised his unhappiness over the MEC’s reported attempt to give him a promotion.
The public services commission halted the promotion...