Bogus CV earns MDDA promotion
Fin24

Bogus CV earns MDDA promotion

2009-11-13 13:47

Johannesburg - A media developmental agency which relies on millions in donor funds has apparently elevated one of its employees to a R600 000-a-year job on the back of fictional qualifications.

A recipient of a total R77m in donor funds from some of South Africa's largest media houses since 2004, the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) falsely claimed in a media statement that newly-appointed project director Harry Letsebe possessed a law degree and several post-graduate diplomas.

"Academically, Mr Letsebe has a law degree (from University of the Western Cape), a postgraduate Certificate in Business and Financial Management (University of Cape Town Graduate School of P & DM), several certificates ranging from project management, social policy, ICT for development (Wits Graduate School of Business)," said the MDDA in a statement in October.

Fin24.com learnt from the UWC that Letsebe failed the final year of the BJuris degree in 1998, after studying towards it since 1993.

Letsebe claimed to have obtained his post-graduate certificate in 1998, but the UCT Graduate School of Business said it only started offering the programme two years ago, and that he did not obtain the qualification there. Wits Graduate School of Business also denied knowledge of Letsebe.

Letsebe admitted to Fin24.com on Wednesday that he had approved the media statement, after initially denying having seen it. "I might not have been in the office when it was drafted and sent out," said Letsebe at first. He initially repeated he held the UCT qualification.

During the same interview Letsebe changed his mind, pleading ignorance on the detail of his own qualifications. "It was a human error, a mistake happens," said Letsebe. "I might not have seen it [his qualifications as listed] in the statement."

With an annual salary of R557 133 (R46 427 a month) "excluding a discretionary performance bonus", the project director's position is the second-highest in the organisation after that of the CEO.

'No irregularities' - but staff allege favouritism

One of the requirements for his job was "an appropriate tertiary qualification or equivalent experience" with management and donor experience.

MDDA CEO Lumko Mtimde told Fin24.com there "have been no irregularities in the appointment" of Letsebe.

"You may be aware and may want to verify through our annual reports audited by the Auditor General that the agency has been receiving unqualified reports since its beginning," said Mtimde when asked of Letsebe's appointment.

However, MDDA employees, who wanted to remain anonymous, attributed Letsebe's appointment to favouritism by Mtimde.

The board of the MDDA is chaired by businesswoman Gugu Msibi and includes respected journalism Professor Guy Berger, journalist Dan Moyane as well as Education Minister Blade Ndzimande's wife Phumelele.

After Fin24.com quizzed Mtimde about Letsebe, staffers say he called a meeting in which threatened to "find and deal" with the culprit who leaked the story.

But Mtimde also attributed Letsebe's hyped-up biography to "an error in the press statement" and said the qualifications were not the reason for Letsebe's appointment but his experience.

He later sent a corrected version to Fin24.com, while the original version of the statement is still published on the organisation's website. No other media houses were sent the "corrected" version.

A breakdown of the MDDA donors include the government, which in financial 2009 advanced a total R36.5m (through the GCIS and communications department), Media24 (owner of Fin24.com) and the SABC and publishing houses Avusa and Caxton.

- Fin24.com