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THE academic qualifications of Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality’s chief spin doctor, Roland Williams, took centre stage at yesterday’s public accounts committee meeting when councillors grilled acting municipal manager Elias Ntoba on how Williams was put in charge of two tender committees above people more qualified and experienced.
A report on the competency of supply chain management officials was presented to councillors at the old Wool Exchange Building yesterday.
Williams is chairperson of both the bid specification and bid evaluation committees.
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The metro also came under fire yesterday for not having a system in place to verify qualifications, a loophole that has led to staff misrepresenting their qualifications.
While other councillors attended the meeting, only the ANC and DA are represented on the public accounts portfolio committee.
DA councillor Retief Odendaal said: “This individual [Williams] is involved in a number of litigations … He is locked in the cellphone contract deal with MTN and Vodacom, which ended up in court.
“He was directly involved in the gantries issue, for which the metro is now being sued for R30-million.
“And we also have a situation where a computer company was given a contract to supply alcohol for a function.”
Williams came under fire for awarding the controversial gantry tender to Century Media days after the city’s outdoor advertising by-laws prohibited them. Century Media was ordered by the courts to remove the gantries and has threatened to sue the municipality for about R30-million in losses.
In 2009, Vodacom’s corporate BEE partner, Indicom, dragged the municipality to court for awarding MTN a R30-million tender for mobile and data services when it should have been disqualified because it had been allowed to supply items omitted from its bid after the closing date for the tenders.
Last year, the municipality awarded a tender to Ibayi PC Sales and Repairs to provide beverages, including alcohol, despite it not having a liquor licence. The municipality subsequently terminated the contract.
DA councillor Leon de Villiers questioned Williams’s 9½ years’ experience in local government. “How can his qualification be acceptable for these positions? What experience does he have – 9½ years of spinning stories to the media?
“I can spend 9½ years in cooking classes but that doesn’t make me a doctor … Where does it spell out that a BA in Social Sciences will be adequate for this position?”
DA councillor Nico du Plessis said the chief financial officer previously headed the supply chain management committees and there were “never such problems”.
ANC councillor Marion Harning came to Williams’s defence, describing him as an “astute, dedicated and hard-working” person.
“If a person has a degree, then we make concessions in the name of moving forward and righting the wrongs of the past.”
Ntoba insisted he believed Williams met the requirements for the positions.
Meanwhile, councillors were also given an internal audit report (on green paper) which listed seven metro officials who had misrepresented their qualifications.
The report, which The Herald has seen, lists:
- Queenie Phailane, former accountant in the budget and treasury directorate, who supplied a tertiary academic record claiming she had written and passed 10 subjects. Her results were signed by former acting assistant director in budget and treasury, Mrs E Ngqondi, as a commissioner of oaths. The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University subsequently confirmed she had passed only four subjects. She was charged with fraud and perjury and dismissed. Ngqondi was also dismissed for fraud;
- Budget and treasury chief accountant M Jack was dismissed for misrepresenting his Grade 12 senior certificate;
- Social development, education and administration manager MB Made was found to be misrepresenting his certificate in effective housing delivery. He resigned before he was charged;
- Sports and recreation manager M Odolo resigned before he was charged with misrepresenting his diplomas in project management and management development;
- Labour relations and HR planning manager Welcome Dlomo was dismissed after he misrepresented his Grade 12 certificate; and
- The business unit manager of recreation and culture, MA Gidane, resigned before he was charged for misrepresenting his BA in business administration.
The councillors criticised the executive director of human resources and cooperative services, Rio Nolutshungu, who had admitted there was “no service provider for formal verification of qualifications”.
Nolutshungu said it was not possible to verify the qualifications of every job applicant. He said his department only verified the qualifications of recommended candidates.
The confidential report also revealed that Ngqondi was found guilty of manipulating her payslip for 10 months by deleting salary deductions on the payroll system which amounted to about R40000.
Ngqondi also provided false payslips under the name of the municipality to banks, and used names of unknown people who supposedly worked at the municipality as references, when she applied for loans.