Saturday, May 15, 2021

WUC rocked by jobs and promotions for money claims

The Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) has been rattled by the perception that its Human Resources Department is selling jobs, promotions and on the job training opportunities.

Sometime late last year, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) approached Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) indicating that they had received a report in which it was alleged that there is a possibility of abuse of office by the Human Resources and Administration Director (HRAD)-Matlhogonolo Mponang. The DCEC report alleged that Mponang was selling promotions in that she will borrow money from her juniors and when she fails to repay them she would either promote them or send them for short courses outside the country.

It was also alleged that Mponang used her office to retain Vincent Pabale, a Principal Human Resource and Administration Officer when he wanted to resign, by increasing his salary by P9000 and in return Pabale gave Mponang an undisclosed sum of money as a token of appreciation. Mponang was also accused of misusing the Corporation’s credit card and the allegations were that after the Finance Director Taboka Muke was fired from WUC, she threatened to expose Mponang for the misuse of the credit card whereupon Mponang wrote to Management to request for the reinstatement of Muke.

The then Acting Chief Executive Officer, Nginani Mbayi requested the Audit Director Tsholofelo Bogosi to investigate the allegations. Sunday Standard is in possession of a 16-page confidential audit report prepared by WUC Audit Director Tsholofelo Bogosi. The scope of the investigation was also extended to incorporate other cases that were not reported to the DCEC but had been making rounds and being discussed within the corporation. The investigations included among other things, the promotions of Ntebogang Modisenyane, Kaelo Masire and the hiring of Mareledi Selabe and Tshegofatso Dibotelo. It also included the training of Mboko Modie. In undertaking the investigation, the audit team carried out interviews with the concerned personnel.

On 12 November, Ntebogang Modisenyane appeared before the committee and said she had heard of the rumours before, that the HRAD was “selling promotions” and she had heard of her name being mentioned in those rumours. She confessed to the investigators that Mponang borrowed money from her and she promoted her from receptionist to Personal Secretary seven months later. Modisenyane said she had found nothing wrong with Mponang borrowing money from her since she (Mponang) knew her aunt. Ironically, as a receptionist, Modisenyane earned a monthly salary of around P4 200 while Mponang’s position of Director fetches a hefty salary of around P50 000.

According to the report, Mponang wrote a memo on the 17/03/14 instructing the Human Resource and Administration Manager to elevate Modisenyane to the position of Personal Secretary (which is salaried at around P7 200) on promotion as “she was the only qualifying officer” out of the 10 employees who had sat for the interview. Next to be interviewed by the investigators was Mpho Mosale. While she denied ever exchanging money with the HRAD, the report indicates that Mosale became the “preferred candidate as on average she became first overall among the 13 employees who were shortlisted”.

On 14 November, the committee interrogated Kaelo Masire who was promoted from Meter Reading Supervisor to Customer Care and Services Coordinator on 01/10/2013. Masire admitted that Mponang had borrowed money from him sometime after he was promoted. He indicated that even though Mponang did not adhere to the original agreed payment period, all the money owed was eventually paid back to him. On promotion, Masire was deployed to Masunga but was eventually transferred back to Gaborone. Next on the interrogation list was Vincent Pabale who was accused of having allegedly ‘thanked’ Mponang with money for retaining him when he wanted to resign from WUC.

The investigators were told that initially the Chief Executive Officer (Mudanga) was asked by Mponang to authorize the retention of Pabale but he refused and “indicated that he could not make decisions of that nature as he claimed to have been aware that at the time he took a decision like that for other employees at Director Level a forensic audit was instituted against him”. The investigators were told that Mponang eventually took the matter to the Board where Pabale’s retention was approved. Mboko Modie, a System Engineer, was interrogated on why, as an IT person, was sent to Cape Town to attend a Human Resource related short course. Her defense was that her portfolio included Training in her section and such the HR course was necessary for her.

Modie however confessed that the Human Resource Director had borrowed money from her and was still in the process of repaying the money back. The investigators were also told that the training that was attended by Modie was initially meant for Principal Training Officer Joyce Banyaditse who, ironically, was dropped at last minute. Tshegofatso Dibotelo, a new entrant at WUC who was also intrreogated, denied ever exchanging money with the Human Resources Director.

WUC Communications and Public Relations Manager Matida Mmipi was also interrogated about the appointment of Mareledi Selabe who joined the corporation on 01/05/2014 as Communications and Public Relations Officer. Mmipi told the investigators that HR had requested her to draft the questions for the interview and before she gave them the questions the HRAD (Mponang) called her for a meeting with other individuals and complained that she was delaying. She stated that she was subsequently called by the Chief Executive Officer (Mudanga) to discuss the same matter.

She revealed that during the day of the interview a complete different set of questions were provided from the office of HR. Shockingly; it was only after the successful candidate (Mareledi Sebabe) joined the Corporation that Mmipi became aware that she was the daughter to one of the HR and Admin Officers (Neo Seitshiro). Seitshiro was summoned for interrogation and she confessed that she had lent some money to the Human Resources Director. She also said she had recused herself from the interview as her daughter was one of the candidates.

In conclusion, the Audit Director, Tsholofelo Bogosi wrote that while the employees had confessed to have exchanged money with the Human Resource Director, the allegations regarding the selling of promotions/training could not be supported by any evidence from the investigation undertaken by Internal Audit as the employees all termed the exchange as personal and not related to their movements within the Corporation structure. She recommended that the Chief Executive Officer “must engage with the Human Resources and Administration Director and indicate the implications that she is or has created with regards to the personal dealings with most employees”. Mponang resigned from WUC in December.

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