By Kwazi Dlamini
Since its inception in 2012, Corruption Watch (CW) has received more than 700 reports of irregular appointments of people who did not meet the minimum requirements, or people alleged to have forged their qualifications to apply for jobs.
However, CW did not have the capacity to flag and investigate those alleged to have forged their qualifications as that is primarily the duty of the companies or organisations involved; if flagged by potential employers, those candidates would simply be disqualified.
This is about to change with the new National Qualifications Framework Amendment Act 2019 that President Cyril Ramaphosa recently signed into law. This act means potential job seekers who lie on their CVs and misrepresent their qualifications can be fined, face up to five years in prison, or both.
In the past, even prominent figures have been caught for lying on their CVs and misrepresenting their qualifications but without the new amendments in place, they did not suffer any consequences besides losing their jobs. One notable figure is former cabinet minister Pallo Jordan; in a 2014 Sunday Times exposé it was revealed that Jordan did not hold any degree or Ph.D. to afford him the title of Doctor, which he maintained for years. At the time, Jordan was a member of Parliament and he resigned from that duty and sought private life without any further repercussions.
Also in 2014, former South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng was found by the then public protector Thuli Madonsela to have misrepresented his qualifications as he did not have matric, which was one of the requirements needed for the post he held at the public broadcaster. Madonsela then concluded that Motsoeneng’s appointment was irregular and recommended that the SABC take action against him. However, Motsoeneng has maintained recently at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture that he never claimed to have matric on his SABC application instead he was headhunted.
Another close ally and colleague of Motsoeneng, the former SABC chairperson Ellen Tshabalala, was also found to have lied on her CV about her academic qualifications. She claimed to have completed a B.Com degree from Unisa but the higher learning institution has no record of this. Instead, Unisa acknowledged that Tshabalala did register for the course but
failed to obtain the qualification on two separate occasions. The parliamentary portfolio committee found her guilty on two charges – misrepresenting her qualifications and lying under oath – but the committee only recommended that she be suspended and removed from the board.
Resignation no longer sufficient
The new amendments to the law will see such cases lead to prison time instead of just a suspension or a resignation and this does not only apply to untruthfulness on your CV – it includes social media accounts too. Lying on your social media profile, claiming you have a certain qualification from a certain institution, will land you in trouble.
In our pool of reports as CW, the corruption allegations stretch from nepotism and irregular appointments to appointments of persons without proper qualifications. In one such report, from the Free State, the reporter alleges that a teacher was appointed to teach secondary school mathematics while she only possessed a qualification for teaching primary level mathematics and the post was never advertised.
Another report alleges corruption at Natalspruit hospital, claiming an assistant director was appointed without meeting the minimum requirements, which were a matric and the relevant diploma.
In addition, if you lie about your credentials you will not only face jail time but you will also be recorded in the South African Qualifications Authority’s register. The organisation will keep a register of misrepresented and fraudulent qualifications, which may come back to have repercussions in future job applications.