Jobs-for-family row at Amathole council

A SENIOR municipal official is embroiled in a jobs-for-family scandal after his wife was appointed and given three salary increases within three months.

Amathole District Municipality (ADM) corporate services director Kulama Taleni's wife, Bukeka, was appointed as a senior administration officer in the public participation unit.

She started the job on May 1 last year. Her salary increased from R210000 a year to more than R237000 a year.

This has angered SA Municipal Workers Union members at the municipality who also accused Taleni of hiring his brother, Thobela, although he did not meet the minimum requirements for his job.

Taleni and his wife refused to comment, referring all inquiries to municipal manager Chris Magwangqana.

Magwangqana confirmed Bukeka worked for the municipality, but denied she was hired by her husband.

He said the pay adjustments had been made to bring her salary in line with what she was earning at her previous job.

"It must also be stated categorically that only the municipal manager makes appointments at ADM, and this responsibility has not been delegated to any [other] official."

Magwangqana said there was no evidence to suggest Bukeka and Thobela's relationship to Taleni had played a role in their appointments.

But documents seen by Times Media show that on April 1, the day the municipality offered the job to Bukeka in writing and a month before she started, Taleni wrote to Magwangqana recommending that her salary be adjusted from R210624 to R215688 a year.

Ten days after she officially started the job, Taleni recommended another adjustment to R217000 a year.

The following month, on June 6, he suggested yet another increase – of more than R26500 on her annual salary. The increases were all approved by Magwangqana.

Taleni, who has worked previously as municipal institutional development project manager at the SA Local Government Association, at the time reported directly to Magwangqana who was then chief executive of Salga in the Eastern Cape.

Magwangqana said when Bukeka started the job with ADM, she presented a salary slip from her previous employer and asked the municipality to improve its offer "within the permissible salary scale as reflected in the advertisement".

"Granting this request has not only happened to [Bukeka] Taleni but all applicants whose commencing notches had such a challenge."

Two labour lawyers, who did not want to be named, questioned how Bukeka was appointed in the first place.

"If he [Kulama] wrote the first recommendation even before she started her job, it brings into question if he did not influence the outcome of the interviews," one lawyer said.

The documents show that Bukeka and four other candidates were interviewed by a panel of three managers on March 27.

The panel's recommendation that Bukeka be appointed was supported by Taleni.

The documents also show that Taleni's brother, Thobela, secured a job as a senior clerk at the district's supply chain management despite not meeting the minimum requirement of a year's experience.

According to the job advert, the requirement was a matric and a year's experience in supply chain management.

Thobela only has an N4 certificate in human resources and his only work experience is as an administration officer in a security company. Magwangqwana said this was news to him. - Mphumzi Zuzile