Tuesday, February 23, 2021


 Dear Readers,

William Hlakoane

          I get the Johannesburg based Sunday Times every week and it is noticeable in pages and pages of expensive career ads that the private sector, which is supposed to be the driving force behind South Africa’s economic recovery hardly features at all. They are mostly for positions in local and provincial government and state owned enterprises, where just about everyone seems to be a director or deputy director.

          The most recent one that I came across that turned out to be extremely dubious was for a Group Chief Executive Officer for Denel our government owned arms manufacturer that has virtually imploded with the help of the Guptas, as it is struggling to pay its staff.  The half page ad which cost around R100 000 appeared on Sunday February 21 with a closing date of 5 March.

First thing the following morning the Board headed by Monhla Hlahla announced that William Hlakoane, the current Chief Operating Officer had been appointed acting CEO for six months. Does she think that will be long enough to turn Denel around? Clearly he must have been the chosen one before the ad even appeared, so how legitimate is his appointment. Is it another jobs for the boys appointment? Don’t these, particularly high powered ones like this that involve a salary of several million a year, have to be properly advertised before someone is named?

The Board is still looking for a permanent head. Hlakoane, who replaced the interim CEO Talib Sadik whose contract expired, is the 9th CEO or acting CEO since the ANC came to power in 1994. Sadik was the CEO some years ago.  To add to Denel’s problems 4 directors resigned in the last couple of months making things rather lonely for Hlahla, the former Airports Company of SA Chief Executive who became chairperson of the Denel Board in 2018. Airports to a high tech arms company is a very incongruous move. 

It’s seems it’s more important to waste a huge amount of money on an ad that was clearly place for show when a decision had already been made, than paying staff.  What the hell it’s only tax payer’s money so who cares.

Monhla Hlahla

Among the 12 Qualification and Experience Requirements in this Denel ad was: “Proven experience and exhibition of achievement in Business Turnaround Strategy Implementation” I find it difficult to believe that Hlakoane complied with this or some of the other ones on the list. 

          Another smelly ad was from the tiny municipality of Nkandla, a name made notorious by its high profile resident our former President Jacob Zuma. While in office he quite illegitimately had his homestead there upgraded with R246-million of our money.

          Although the municipality is surprisingly now controlled by the Inkatha Freedom Party,  as opposed to Zuma’s ruling African National Congress, it is following, in its small way, Zuma’s example of how to squander public funds.

          It’s ad for a General Worker at a salary of R9000 a month cost R10 520 for one insertion in the paper. It made no sense to spend this amount to place this in a national paper when there must be any number of people in Nkandla capable of making the tea and doing the cleaning and the job was for somebody at the bottom of the employment ladder.

          The ads also paint a dismal picture of municipalities and even provincial Governments like Mpumalanga that are still in the dark ages. Their job applications can only be submitted by post and with our broken postal service there must be a huge number of positions that remain vacant before any applications arrive. The last time I was sent a letter by post I got it three months later.

           The comical gobbledygook job descriptions for some of the highly paid jobs explain completely why our local government is in such a mess with numerous municipalities and the like under administration. For instance the Chris Hani District Municipality in the Eastern Cape wants a Director, Health and Community Services (5 year fixed performance contract, salary negotiable).

The following Competences are required:

·      Critical competences that drive the strategic intent and direction.

·      Core competences that drive the execution of critical competences.

·      Working in a team to advise Council & Committees.

          If this is what the ‘team’ produces heaven help the people in that area who rely on this humpty dumpty organisation. No faxed or emailed applications will be accepted. They had to send them to a Private Bag address or hand delivered them.       

          In a whole page ad that probably cost about half a million the Mpumalanga Provincial Government called for applications for 46 posts that included 3 Directors (R1 057 326 p.a.), 4 Deputy Directors (R733 257 p.a.), 4 Assistance Directors (R376 596 p.a.) and 16 cleaners at R102 234 p.a each. Helpfully would be career cleaners were told that the requirements included “Ability to work under pressure and to remain focused towards productivity” and a “Basic knowledge on utilization of cleaning equipment will be an added advantage.”

          Among the requirements for the Directors  was “Honesty and integrity.” They don’t seem to know that both words mean the same thing. This is evidently not necessary for anybody below the rank of Director because it doesn’t get mentioned again when HONESTY should be the number one requirement for anybody joining the public service. No wonder there are so many who don’t seem to have heard of it.

          The various departments have such little confidence in their abilities to pick the right person for the job that all the top salary earners are employed on 5 year contracts.  Is this the Government’s way of preventing top officials from remaining on suspension forever on huge salaries? Mind you even five years could cost the fiscus a fortune.

          The Employment Equity Act seems to be causing a great deal of confusion. Here are some interpretations.

          Magalies Water ad for a Chief Operations Office and Payroll Manager: “Preference will be given to African females, Coloured, Indians, White males and people living with disabilities.”

          City of Johannesburg ad for Group Human Capital Management: “This is an employment equity targeted position and preference will be given to African males, White males and African females and White females, including people with disabilities."

          National Gambling Board ad for a Researcher and a Legal and Stakeholder Engagement Intern at salaries of R12 000 a year – not much more than cleaners get: “In terms of the Employment Equity preference will be given to Coloureds, Indians, Whites and people with disabilities.”

          Nyandeni Local Municipality, Eastern Cape ad for a Senior Manager: Infrastructure Development: “Females, Coloureds, Indians, Whites and People with disabilities are encouraged to apply.”

          Most stated they abide by the Employment Equity act or did not comment on it at all.


Jon, a Consumer Watchdog and Poor Man’s Press Ombudsman.

 P.S. Anybody who still believes that apartheid is dead does not live in South Africa. When are we going to grow up enough to be able to employ the best person for the job regardless of their colour?




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