The Democratic Alliance in the Free State legislature has requested an investigation in the appointment of the director of Development Planning and Social Security in the Setsoto Local Municipality, Themba Zondo. Chief Whip of the official opposition in the Free State Legislature David van Vuuren wrote to the MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs that “that the Setsoto Local Municipality Council opted to appoint Mr Zondo, despite the fact that he is not in possession of an NQF Level 7 qualification, as is required for appointment.”
Upon Zondo’s appointment, the municipality sought a legal opinion on his qualifications for the post from the Premier’s office and Chief Director of Legal Services, Advocate A Swanepoel advised in October last year that “to appoint Mr Zondo is not only prejudicial to other candidates, but is also unfair towards other potential candidates who did not apply because they did not meet the more stringent requirements” The post required a Bachelor degree or equivalent, Certificate in Municipal Finance Management and registration with South African Council for Social Service Professionals. Zondo has NDIP Extraction Metallurgy, National Certificate in Local Economic Development and two other short courses.
Van Vuuren said in a letter that according to section 56(3)(b) of the Systems Act the Municipal Council must re-advertise the post if there was no suitable candidate who complied with the prescribed requirements for appointment to the post. Van Vuuren accused the municipality of unlawfully appointing Zondo to the position. “Section 56(5) of the Systems Act, provides that the MEC for Local Government must, within 14 days of becoming aware of such appointment, take appropriate steps to enforce compliance by the Municipal Council with this Act, which steps may include an application to a court for a declaratory order on the validity of the appointment or any other legal action against the Municipal Council. To date, this provision has not been complied with”.
Last week a Ficksburg businessman, Bambatha Marotholi was ordered by the court to apologise to Zondo after he brought a defamation suit against him for questioning his qualifications for the position in a Facebook post. Marotholi compared a story published in the Sowetan newspaper about a Dihlabeng municipal official titled ‘Municipal official accused of falsifying qualifications for R 1 m job’ on January the 13th this year, to what he believed was happening at Setsoto Municipality.
The statement was found last week by Judge J Molitsoane to be defamatory and Marotholi was ordered to remove it from all Facebook platforms. Marotholi in his statement of apology also said “It remains a view I strongly hold that the applicant is not appropriately qualified for the position he’s currently occupying, until a relevant institution, ceased with an inquiry and / or investigation in that regard, determines otherwise. I therefore, reserve my rights to report the matter to a relevant institution for an inquiry and / or investigation into whether the applicant is appropriately qualified for the position he’s currently occupying”.
The Democratic Alliance expects the MEC to respond to its question when the provincial legislature convenes later this month.