“Sending Sohena to the Mbhashe Municipality indicated a dire shortage of suitably qualified municipal managers in the province.” — Dacre Haddon

FORMER Nelson Mandela Bay human resources business unit manager Siphiwo “Speech” Sohena has been appointed to yet another senior municipal post in the Eastern Cape, despite his controversial past.

Sohena – who authorised the purchase of golf shirts at R560 each for a conference while working for the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality – is senior manager for the human resources and legal unit on Operation Clean Audit in the Local Government Department.

Two weeks ago he was deployed to the Dutywa-based Mbhashe Municipality as acting municipal manager.

However, the appointment of Sohena, who also left the Sundays River Municipality under a cloud, has raised eyebrows.

The DA has questioned his suitability and now wants the department to conduct a skills audit of municipal managers.

“How can Siphiwo Sohena keep reappearing in the public service, despite leaving the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality in 2004 under a cloud of controversy over signing off on golf shirts at R560 a pop for a conference, and being fired from the Sundays River Municipality after being found guilty on 11 charges of corruption and mismanagement?” the DA’s Dacre Haddon asked. He said sending Sohena to the Mbhashe Municipality indicated a dire shortage of suitably qualified municipal managers in the province.

He had written to Local Government MEC Mlibo Qoboshiyane asking him to explain Sohena’s appointment “given his questionable past employment history in municipalities”.

“I have also asked the MEC to do a skills audit of municipal managers in the province.”

Sohena declined to comment yesterday. “The province (Local Government Department) has issued a statement. On my side there is no comment,” he said.

Department head Stanley Khanyile said Sohena had been appointed to the department’s Clean Audit Operation unit after he applied for the post when it was advertised.

“This person was considered because of what we believed he could offer based on his qualifications and experience,” Khanyile said. He also defended Sohena’s secondment to the Mbhashe Municipality after the council asked to be assisted temporarily.

Responding to claims that allegations hang over Sohena’s head, Khanyile said they had not been tested.

He also said Sohena and the Sundays River Municipality had commissioned forensic investigations into the allegations.

“Neither of these two reports make any specific recommendations against Sohena, but rather recommend more detailed investigations on the issues raised.” Khanyile said the Special Investigations Unit probe had not made any recommendations directly against Sohena.

Mbhashe Mayor Nonceba Mfecane and provincial secretary Oscar Mabuyane could not be reached for comment.

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