Knysna’s Municipal Manager Grant Easton is unqualified for his position yet in charge of a R900-million budget. He, together with the Democratic Alliance, misled Parliament when questioned.
Knysna Municipality said to Parliament:
With regards to Mr Easton’s academic qualification, we have to state that it is quite strange that the petitioner now questions [his] academic qualifications [yet] never questioned [them] when he was appointed as CFO [Chief Financial Officer]…
Mr Easton held the same qualification when he was appointed by the Knysna Municipality in 2002, 2006 and again in 2012.
We have irrefutable proof that Mr. Easton does indeed hold a Bachelor’s degree from Glasgow Caledonian University. We have, via the office of the MEC, submitted to this committee a copy, a print out of his credit record from the university itself, and verification by an accredited agency that he holds such a degree.
Susan Campbell responded:
Mr. Easton’s qualification was probably never questioned as he has been known to state that he is an economist, not an accountant. It was therefore assumed that Mr. Easton had a BCom degree. Mr. Easton’s qualification only became known when he was appointed as Municipal Manager.
Mr. Easton’s appointment as CFO in 2012 would therefore appear to be illegal as Knysna Municipality had a budget exceeding 500 Million, and the CFO therefore had to have a BCom Honours degree or a BCom CA degree.
The relevant legal provisions are set out hereunder:
LOCAL GOVERNMENT: MUNICIPAL FINANCE MANAGEMENT ACT 56 OF 2003
MUNICIPAL REGULATIONS ON MINIMUM COMPETENCY LEVELS 2007
Published under Government Notice R493 in Government Gazette 29967 dated 15 June 2007. Commencement date: 1 July 2007
5. Minimum competency levels for chief financial officers: The chief financial officer of a municipality or municipal entity must comply with the minimum competency levels required for higher education qualification, work related experience, core managerial and occupational competencies and be competent in the unit standards prescribed for financial and supply chain management competency areas as set out below.
MINIMUM COMPETENCY LEVELS FOR CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICERS
All municipalities with annual budgets of a value and equal to or above R500 million
At least NQF Level 7(new NQF8) in fields of Accounting, Finance or Economics or Chartered Accountant (SA)
Mr. Easton provided a certified copy of a degree from the Glasgow College of Technology and not the Glasgow Caledonian University. It is noteworthy that the copy was certified by Melony Paulsen, the Manager Legal Services, who reports to Easton.
The “irrefutable proof” referred to is an email from a company called SearchWorks. When I contacted the company to enquire about the grading or NQF level of the qualification, they advised me that they had no knowledge of the qualification and referred me to another company. The SearchWorks letter therefore does not provide irrefutable proof as it is based on hearsay.
A printout reflecting Mr. Easton’s credit record from the university surely only serves to prove that he studied there.
As the qualification is a foreign qualification, it has to be verified and graded by SAQA to ensure that it is equal to a South African Bachelors Degree. To date this has not been done.
Why has the Municipality taken almost a year [much longer now] to get the qualification verified and graded by the only legally mandated authority, SAQA?