They say there is no rest for the wicked but, in this case, just how wicked are the rest?
Not a lot, if the forensic report is anything to go by. This is a comfort. It confirms what most residents of Plett know from experience – Bitou staff may sometimes be short on skills but, by and large, they are honest, conscientious, and nice to deal with.
What the forensic report does uncover, however, is a high level of unprocedural activity. People are frequently hired without observing the protocols and, in some departments, the records are woefully inadequate. Money is liberally spent without authorization, not infrequently on matters (such as funeral transport) that are not obviously part of the municipality’s remit. Formal disclosure of business interests is seemingly treated as an irksome constraint or a tiresome bore to which little attention need be paid.
Most alarming is the failure to observe proper procedures within the HR Department. The forensic investigators make no bones about this. ‘There is widespread mismanagement and maladministration within the Human Resources section of Bitou Municipality’. The investigators say the recruitment policy is repeatedly ignored in a variety of different ways. Record keeping is a mess: ‘The human resources files provided to us were disorganised and the majority were missing documents required’ by statute. They recommend disciplinary action against Tanya Wildeman, HR manager (and, it so happens, the Speaker’s wife), who is ultimately responsible for the shambles, and her assistant.
In their report they also find ‘undue and unlawful influence of certain Councillors over recruitment and selection processes at the Bitou Municipality. Developing the theme, they mention ‘allegations that the Executive Mayor, Deputy Executive Mayor and the Speaker … are issuing instructions concerning the filling of certain posts on the organisational structure.’ Seemingly, Bitou bears out the old saying ‘it’s not what you know but who you know.’
You can read about it on page 168 of the Corruption Report on www.plettratepayers.co.za.