07 December 2014
The roll call of people in top positions without the qualifications they claim to have seems to grow by the week, while the excuses they come up with become ever more ludicrous. Last week it emerged that acting SAA CEO Nico Bezuidenhout claimed as far back as 2006 that he held a BCom degree and an MBA, even though SAA had previously insisted that his profile in the airline's annual reports of 2011 and 2012, which listed the degrees, was an error committed by those compiling those reports, and that his studies towards these qualifications were "in progress".
Bezuidenhout joins a long list of people holding top jobs without possessing the qualifications used to secure those jobs in the first place.
Among the prominent figures are Hlaudi Motsoeneng, the SABC chief operating officer, who was found by the public protector to have lied about having a matric qualification; SAA board chairwoman Dudu Myeni, who listed a Bachelor's degree in administration from the University of Zululand when she was appointed to the SAA board in 2009; and SABC board chairwoman Ellen Tshabalala.
Now, a parliamentary committee has recommended that Tshabalala be removed from office, and the DA has laid a perjury charge against her.
Tshabalala has been particularly intransigent in defence of her non-qualification, claiming that there is a conspiracy to remove her from office.
The committee went as far as to call Unisa's executive director for legal services, Jan van Wyk, who testified that Tshabalala registered for a BCom degree in 1988 and again in 1996, but did not complete her studies. In addition, she registered for a diploma in labour relations in 1995, when her results were so bad that she could not be readmitted. She scored 35% for a labour relations module and 13% for a human resources module.
No doubt, beyond the prominent public figures who have misstated their qualifications, there are hundreds of people in the middle and lower ranks of the public service and in the private sector who have been less than frank about their qualifications.
In all of this, former minister Pallo Jordan is one of the few to emerge with his dignity intact, having fallen on his sword soon after this newspaper disclosed that he had not earned the doctorate he had claimed for so many years to have.
Much of this is unnecessary.
Beyond clear-cut cases of collusion between employer and employee, surely it is incumbent on employers to demand that prospective employees produce proof of the qualifications they claim to have, so that these can be checked and verified. In the age of transparency in public life, surely this is not too much to ask.