Municipal manager lied about qualifications

NORTH WEST – An anti-corruption organisation in the North West is calling for the removal of Mamusa Local Municipality (MLM) manager Ruben Rantsho Gincane for allegedly misrepresenting himself during a job interview in November 2020 to secure yet another senior position at MLM, with immediate effect.

Boyce Mandla Mpempe, executive director for the Centre for Good Governance and Social Justice, highlighted Gincane’s recent appointment as a municipal manager, defining it as unlawful, irregular, and an outcome of deliberate fraud and misrepresentation.

Mpempe explained how Gincane had allegedly lied in his application that he had a CPMD Certificate in Municipal Financial Management, obtained from Wits Business School and Weinvest, and while he had not submitted a copy of his certificates to validate his claims, he had also not met the requirements for the position as per the municipality’s job advertisement last year.

He said the advertisement specifically indicated that a candidate ought to be in possession of a CPMD qualification and that Gincane was outscored after being shortlisted by another candidate who had the relevant experience and qualifications, but when the Mamusa mayor raised concern about Gincane’s experience and qualifications during a council meeting, it was ignored.

Mpempe contacted the Local Government Sector Education and Training Authority (LGSETA) to confirm Gincane’s qualification, but: “LGSETA wrote back confirming that Gincane did register for this programme in 2009, but it was not completed,” he said.

Independent Media’s investigations unit was provided with documents as a backup to the Centre’s allegations and discovered that Gincane had indeed presented in his CV that he had obtained a certificate in municipal development in 2010, along with a Bachelor of Laws degree (LLB) in 2001.

While the copies of his qualifications, which he claimed he had, were not attached to his application, a letter by LGSETA on April 1, 2021, which the investigations unit has seen, also confirmed that Gincane achieved no such qualification to date, with only eight modules reflecting under a unit standard achievement status.

The Centre has since launched a court application to have the irregular appointment set aside as unlawful, irregular, and invalid, and had on December 7, 2020, via Meyer Van Sittert & Kropman Attorneys, also written to the North West MEC for Cooperative Governance, Human Settlement (Gogta) Mmoloki Cwaile to highlight how Gincane had previously failed to obtain the minimum competency levels for an accounting officer, failing to comply with specific financial management responsibilities, which may have constituted financial misconduct.

Weinvest said when they were appointed by the MLM, they had enrolled Gincane and did the training based on minimum competencies regulations. “We assessed the learner’s Portfolios of Evidence, moderated and uploaded the results onto the LGSETA,” the institute said.

However, Weinvest, who provided the investigations unit with the list of modules that Gincane had completed, differed from the updated LGSETA list of April 2021, which provides fewer modules. Weinvest did not explain why the list differed and which year his modules were obtained.

Mayor Gotsilekgosi John Batsi had, on November 30, 2020, written to municipal councillors, highlighting how he had requested Gincane’s original certificates, academic and professional qualifications, and proof of previous employment, but to date has not received it.

Batsi said he had requested it in compliance with the terms and conditions of the employment contract applicable to all municipal managers and had called for the appointment of the other shortlisted candidate instead.

In another letter to the Cogta MEC Cwaile, dated February 9, 2021, Batsi highlighted a report with all the financial years that the Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA) expressed audit disclaimers in financial statements of MLM, during Gincane’s tenure, in which Independent Media will reveal in-depth in a separate article, along with the AGSA’s response.

The mayor, who still has concerns over Gincane’s appointment, this week said that a special council meeting will be held, following questioning from the investigations unit, and will revert in full thereafter.

While the office of Cogta Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma had not responded, even though approached, Charles Matlou, on behalf of North West Gogta MEC Cwaila said according to information in their possession, the appointment of Gincane is compliant because he has a primary Cogta-prescribed qualification, namely law degree, and experience of minimum five years at senior management level.

“Secondary requirements prescribed by National Treasury is the so-called CPMD that is meant to empower non-financial managers with strategic financial acumen. It is regarded as an added advantage and can be acquired while the appointee is in the post,” Matlou said.

Gincane believes that officials linked to the Centre have political motives to remove him from the municipality. However, he said that the public and centre are within their rights to pose questions on whether a person appointed as municipal manager meets the requirements for the position to carry out this daunting public function.

“According to section 54A of the Municipal Systems Act 32 of 2000, a person to be appointed should have the relevant skills, competencies, experience, and qualification, and therefore, I meet the legislated requirements,” he said.

“The position for the municipal manager of MLM was advertised in the national newspaper and required qualifying candidates to accompany their application with records proving their qualifications, experience, and skills attesting to their suitability.

“I submitted a copy of my LLB degree obtained from the University of North West, a copy of my CV indicating my experience in senior positions in local government from 2004 until 2016, a copy of my matric certificate, and a transcript from LGSETA identifying CPMD modules I completed with Wits University. A psychometrist from GIJIMA People’s Technology also gave an overall result of myself as competent on May 20, 2020.”

He told the investigations unit that he would attach a copy of his LLB degree, an assessment outcome conducted by GIJIMA, and his CV indicative of his relevant experience at a later stage, but it had not been received at the time of print, almost two weeks after making contact with Gincane.

“There exists a misconception amongst others that obtaining CPMD is a prerequisite for appointment of municipal/ senior managers in the municipality. A person can be appointed in those positions even if the person does not possess the CPMD, with the proviso that such a person should obtain a CPMD at the cost of the municipality within 18 months,” he argued.

“The real prerequisite for appointment of senior manager/municipal manager is that a person must have undergone a competency assessment by an accredited institution (GIJIMA). The assessment outcome together with required years, level of experience and a relevant Bachelor’s Degree are the only prerequisites for appointment of municipal managers across the country.”

When asked about the incomplete status and module units reflecting under LGSETA, he argued that he had enrolled the CPMD with Wits University and later Weinvest, which were some of the training institutions accredited by the national treasury to provide the training.

“I enrolled my first modules with Wits and the remaining, a few years later, with Weinvest. Wits University managed to upload their results, and Weinvest did not upload theirs (on the LGSETA database).

“I have been in contact with the assessor from Weinvest to understand the delay and have been unsuccessful due to the fact that the assessor no longer works for Weinvest. I have not been able to reach Weinvest from their identified landline.

“The modules with Weinvest were paid by the Municipality after completion of the training, and the financial records of the municipality would attest to this fact. I was amongst other senior managers in the municipality who underwent CMPD. I regard an accusation that I have misrepresented facts in my CV as patently untrue and unfounded,” he said.

He added that the municipality was in a bad state before he took over, where he had to start crucial departments from scratch, and that had inherited matters which certain members of the public are now shifting the blame on him.

While Weinvest had not confirmed Gincane’s module status on the LGSETA systems, Mpempe added that the qualification issue is a small part of Gincane’s criminal offences and that other misconducts by Gincane are being looked into by several government departments and the court.

“Gincane has committed a criminal offence of fraud, forgery, and corruption, and this will be applicable to the councillors that supported his appointment, which should immediately be reversed, and an appropriate criminal case should be laid against Gincane.”

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