Five out of five for Bobani’s favourite

Deputy mayor Mongameli Bobani gave his political adviser Nombeko Nkomana top marks in an interview

Questions being asked over deputy mayor’s ‘weird’ scoring in interview

Questions over the filling of a top municipal post have been raised after Nelson Mandela Bay deputy mayor Mongameli Bobani gave his political adviser top marks for an interview and rated the remaining four candidates at rock bottom.

While Bobani has never shied away from expressing support for his political adviser, Nombeko Nkomana, to take up the post of executive director: public health, his scorecard reveals a glaring oddity.

Bobani gave Nkomana five out of five on all 10 structured questions asked during the panel interviews in February.

He then proceeded to give the four remaining candidates the lowest possible marks on the same questions.

The four other scorecards show mixed results for all the remaining candidates.

When asked about his scoring yesterday, Bobani said: “There was no favouritism, no nepotism. Nkomana performed well during the interview and was also scored as the second-highest by another panellist, who is more independent.”

He said Nkomana was the right candidate for the job.

“In terms of the equity [plan], where a preferred candidate is female, she is the right person to do the job, she has the experience, suitable skills and qualifications,” he said.

The job advert stated: “In compliance with the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality’s Employment Equity Plan, preference will be given to suitably qualified African – Coloured – White – Indian [female] applicants.”

Bobani later sent a letter defending his scoring yesterday.

“From what I know my recommendation is not illegal. It is within the legal frameworks. The official I recommended performed well [and] meets all the requirements. Give the black woman a chance. She is capable and competent,” he stated in the letter.

Bobani said he was baffled by how he always had to respond to leaked documents to the media.

“To me this is a clear and calculated agenda to tarnish my name and that of my party.

“Here I am asked to justify my recommendations of a capable, learned [and] experienced Nelson Mandela Bay and Eastern Cape-based senior official, who is a woman.

“On the nonsensical issue of nepotism, I want to categorically state it without fear of contradiction that it does not deserve to be given credibility with a response,” he stated in the letter.

On the selection panel were Bobani, political head of corporate services Dean Biddulph, city manager Johann Mettler, corporate services acting executive director Vuyo Zitumane and Kouga municipal manager Sydney Fadi.

The hiring of a new director has been a contentious issue for months between city officials and councillors.

In a recording leaked to The Herald, Bobani can be heard telling Biddulph to “come outside” after Biddulph told him to have a good weekend when a March 3 meeting that was meant to select a preferred candidate for the post ended.

The municipality was then meant to name the new director in a council meeting last week but the item was withdrawn at the last minute.

It is expected to appear on the agenda for the next council meeting set down for Thursday.

Biddulph said this week that the criteria for a preferred female candidate still stood.

“But at the end of the day, certainly for executive director positions, this administration is committed to employing the very best candidate.”

When asked if there had been any favouritism in the scoring of candidates, Biddulph said councillors could draw their own conclusions at the next council meeting.

“In the event of somebody blatantly favouring a candidate in scoring, that will certainly be exposed in the council meeting because all councillors will be able to see that. The score sheets are there for the councillors to apply their minds.”

Mettler declined to comment, saying the matter was confidential.

Francois Greyling, a DA councillor in the public health portfolio, said he was unaware how far the process of appointing a candidate was but labelled Bobani’s scoring as “weird”.

An ANC councillor, also in the public health portfolio but who declined to be named, said Bobani had scored Nkomana like that because the odds of employing her had been against him from the start.

“It was clear that the DA did not want Bobani to choose who he wants. They were going to choose someone for him. [Nkomana] didn’t stand a chance.”

Despite Bobani’s scoring, Nkomana only finished secondhighest in the interviews.

Others on the panel scored Nkomana 21, 23, 37 and 23 out of 50.

The highest-rated candidate was a male.

Commission for Employment Equity chairwoman Tabea Kabinde said while the law allows for preference to be given to designated individuals to advance the prescripts of the Employment Equity Act, this should not be done in a manner which compromised the quality of recruits.

“There must be a criterion for selection and incumbents need to meet the minimum requirements. Organisations need to make sure that the minimum requirements are fair and free of discrimination,” Kabinde said.

“However, manipulation of scores to achieve the desired appointment is unacceptable as it sets the incumbent up for potential failure in the role.

“It sabotages the incumbent and the spirit of employment equity.”

She said manipulating scores during interviews was unethical.

“It cannot be used as an excuse for pushing employment equity.

“Good governance is critical in business,” she said.

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