HOD vacancies a golden opportunity for fresh start in Eastern Cape

Bobby Stevenson MPL

DA Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature Leader

Five out of the thirteen provincial departments in the Eastern Cape have vacancies for heads of department which are in the process of being dealt with this week.

The Premier of the Eastern Cape, Noxolo Kiviet, has a golden opportunity to present the provincial administration with a fresh start when she appoints five new heads of department. The Premier must ensure that the HODs that fill these vacancies are fit for purpose. The DA believes they need to have the required leadership ability and experience to hold departmental officials to account for poor performance. They also need to be the best people for the job, and not simply deployed cadres.

Until there is a real culture of accountability flowing from the Premier, though the MECs to department heads and throughout the civil service, service delivery will not improve in the Eastern Cape. With these new appointments the Premier must ensure that service delivery trumps cadre deployment.

It is also critical that when these HODs are picked, they have the required political support to bring about the changes that are needed and not simply worked out when they make things too hot for non-performers and corrupt officials.

We need to put the Eastern Cape on the high road to service delivery. Part of this is having the right people in the right jobs.

Three HOD-positions were advertised in the Sunday Times on 23 December by the Office of the Premier. These were for the departments of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Local Government and Traditional Affairs and for Roads and Public Works. Applications close on 18 January 2013.

A fourth advertisement appeared on the same day for the position of Superintendent-General (SG) of Health. This was a re-advertisement and applications closed on 11 January 2013.

A fifth vacancy exists in the Department of Education following the resignation of SG Modidima Mannya. Interviews for this position are being conducted today (subs: 15 Jan 2013).

The fact that five out of thirteen Heads of Department are scheduled to change, points to the continued instability in the top structures of the Eastern Cape administration. The vacancies have been created by:

* Education SG Modidima Mannya resigned in April;

* Economic Development HOD Bulumko Nelana resigned to return to Johannesburg;

* Roads and Public Works HOD Bongani Gxilishe’s contract was not renewed, after being appointed in 2010;

* Local Government and Traditional Affairs HOD Stanley Khanyile is to be replaced after being appointed in 2009;

* The contract of Health SG Siva Pillay ended last month.

This instability has resulted in a lack of consistent leadership in departments, which has led to poor administration and lack of service delivery, as is evident from the Auditor-General’s findings in this regard.

Everything rises and falls depending on the calibre of leadership. The Premier must take the lead in picking the right people if we have any hope of turning the Eastern Cape around.

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