THE appointment of former Education MEC Mahlubandile Qwase into a top job in the Office of the Premier (OTP) has come under fire from the opposition.

ANC spokesperson Mlibo Qoboshiyana confirmed yesterday that Qwase took up a deputy directorgeneral post in the OTP with effect from January 1.

“He has assumed office as head of institutional change and transformation in the OTP as of January 1,” Qoboshiyana said.

Qoboshiyana said Qwase would put up systems and also deal with transformation issues in the public service in the Eastern Cape.

“That is where he is to put his experience into practice,” he said, adding his role would also be to deal with change in the behaviour of civil servants and batho pele (people first) policies, among other things.

Qwase did not answer his cellphone when contacted for comment yesterday.

Premier Noxolo Kiviet and newlyappointed director-general Mbulelo Sogoni were not immediately available for comment either.

But Kiviet told a gala dinner last week, where Qwase received a standing ovation for the improved 2010 matric results, that redeployment was not always about factions.

“It is about identifying capacity and (channelling) it to where it is needed most. These results prove that point,” she said at the time

But Qoboshiyana said Qwase’s appointment arose from the public sector transformation summit which resolved to have someone in the administration in that position.

“It has been identified in that conference that there is a need for a project leader (on transformation),” Qoboshiyana explained.

Provincial government spokesperson Mzukisi Ndara confirmed yesterday that Qwase was appointed without the post being advertised.

“Mr Qwase has been appointed at the prerogative of the premier in line with public service regulations which allows that to drive the transformation agenda of the public service.

“The premier does have the prerogative to appoint people to reinforce a particular purpose without advertising the post,” Ndara said.

Qwase, along with Sogoni and Fezeka Nkomonye, resigned Bhisho’s Legislature seats at the behest of ANC leadership to give space for the three newly appointed MECs.

Nkomonye is now chief of staff in the Finance and Planning Ministry headed by Phumulo Masualle.

But opposition parties poured scorn on Qwase’s appointment.

The Democratic Alliance’s Bobby Stevenson said Qwase and Sogoni were given a “soft landing” after being axed from the provincial executive.

“The DA does not believe politicians should be redeployed to public service. This move is all about the ANC’s failed policy of cadre deployment. It was to make the Cabinet reshuffle possible and bring in new members to the Legislature,” he said.

The United Democratic Movement’s Max Mhlati said the appointment was an attempt to given him a salary at the end of the month.

“They just dump him after they removed him from the Legislature to make a Cabinet reshuffle possible,” Mhlati added.

Congress of the People’s Nkosifikile Gqomo said the appointment of both Qwase and Sogoni undermined the spirit of having qualified appointments to public sector jobs. “We hope people will use their power of X not only in local government elections, (but) to root out the hyenas who put themselves in positions of power.” —