Sunday, May 29, 2022

Ombudsman petitioned to probe labour ministry maladministration allegations

Two public officers have petitioned the Ombudsman over maladministration and ‘nepotism’ in the recruitment process at the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs. The two officers, Johannes Mosanawe and Gabopaone Kebakile are concerned about the recruitment process for the post of Deputy Director in the Department of Occupational Health and Safety which was advertised in local newspapers and which required a Degree holder in the field of Occupational Health and safety or equivalent science based degree and 12 years post experience. The two were surprised to see the post filled by someone holding PhD in Communication Disorder when the advert never required such qualification.

The post was filled by Dr Sinah Seoke. Even though they did not apply for the post, the officers query the disregard of General Orders which calls for a mandatory conduction of file inventory before advertising the post. They are also questioning why they were not invited for the interview because they are in the system, have the required qualifications and 25 years experience. In their letter to the Ombudsman, the two officers ask probing questions about the recruitment process. They want to know why the ministry recruited someone with PhD in communication disorder when the post had wanted a degree holder in the field of occupational health and safety.

They are saying Doctor of Audiology Bachelor of Arts Communication Disorder is not a science based degree but rather an Art Degree therefore not equivalent to occupational health and safety related field. “An audiologist is a health care professional specialising in identifying, diagnosing, treating and monitoring health disorders. In contrast, the field of occupational health and safety is concerned with wide spectrum of workplace material and processes which are potentially hazardous to the safety and health of the employees.” They said, on the contrary, the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs does not deal with diagnosing and treating of disorders because it is a public health issue not occupational health and safety issue therefore fitting in the Ministry of Health. “ it is shocking and disturbing that the Ministry selected the incumbent to perform duties of occupational health and safety when in the past the same ministry disqualified applicants for the post of occupational doctor on the basis that they were audiologist.

We are wondering what an audiologist will be doing in terms of performance because she has no academic qualification and post experience in the field of occupational health and safety.” The officers demand the name of the recruiting agency, their credentials and ability, the contact details, the date and venue of the interview and the panelists who interviewed the incumbent holder of the office. “Lastly we would like to inform you that the post in question was handled under suspicious circumstances. The incumbent of the post should not have been considered when short listing because she did not meet the requirements of the post, even the ministry admits that, that is why they are hiding behind the behavioural competencies which is very outrageous.”

Before they petitioned the Ombudsman, the officers had written to the permanent secretary raising issues with the manner of the recruitment but they were told that the position of deputy director was a managerial position which required behavioural competencies outweighing technical competencies. However the two public officers did not take kindly to this explanation, they asked the Ombudsman the significance of behavioural competencies in terms of performance and service delivery in a technical department.

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