Parliament Endorses Xolile George’s Appointment As Its New Admin Boss… Parliament has adopted a motion endorsing the appointment of SA Local Government Association (Salga) boss Xolile George as its new secretary.
The legislature wants George to assume his new duties on June 15.
It will be the first time parliament has a permanent administrative boss in more than five years. George’s predecessor Gengezi Mgidlana was put on special leave in June 2017 and was subsequently suspended and eventually fired in October 2019.
George has been a front-runner for the job after he impressed in interviews last March but parliament could not afford his salary. He earned R5.8m in the financial year which ended in March 2020. The parliamentary job pays R2.6m a year, about 60% less.
On Wednesday, the DA, EFF and Freedom Front opposed George’s appointment.
DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone said while they appreciated consultation by National Assembly speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula over the past week, there were still unanswered questions and concerns about George’s appointment.
She questioned his record as Salga head compared with the dire state of local governments in SA. As Salga boss, George was mandated to protect and enforce the rights of the local government sector and constructively disrupt areas of existing systems that make it impossible for government to deliver on its mandate.
However, during that time, the auditor-general highlighted the dire state of local governments, and reported a staggering R189bn irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure.
“The tenure of Mr Xolile George has left local government health in a death spiral and that cannot be ignored,” she said.
Parliament needed someone with sound and stable financial capability to look after its finances and not a deployed cadre who will make decisions based on ideology, said Mazzone.
The EFF’s Yoliswa Yako said the party does not trust George and will never trust him.
“We will never trust deployees of the ANC in our lifetime,” she said.
The party will also oppose any adjustment of his salary from what was published in the advertisement for the job.
“We also want to make it clear that no-one is going to be paid some amount that is negotiated in corridors. An advert was publicly circulated and a salary for secretary to parliament is public knowledge and it is R2.4m per annum,” she said.
The prescribed salary package as per the advertisement is between R2.4m and R2.6m. Parliament said it is offering George the latter (highest notch) as he was already earning more at Salga.
“He applied knowing (this) and if he doesn’t want the advertised amount, he shouldn’t have applied and should go home,” said Yako.
While the IFP supported George’s appointment, its chief whip Narend Singh, who was also a member of the panel that interviewed and selected George, cautioned that the IFP will monitor closely that his salary is not adjusted.
Singh spoke highly of George, saying he has good leadership skills and credentials.
He said besides professional competence and merit, the office of secretary to parliament should be held by someone who understands the law and values that underpin SA’s democracy.
“The incumbent must have requisite skills, be apolitical and be ready to hit the ground running in respect to the current needs and challenges that this institution finds itself facing today,” he said.
Referring to George as ‘comrade George’, the ANC’s Bhekizizwe Radebe defended the incoming STP’s ANC membership, saying it did not disqualify him from executing the new responsibilities.
Radebe cited former and current SA Reserve Bank governors as examples of ANC members who excelled in their positions, adding that they did “extremely well in that institution because they were trained by the ANC”.
“As we know Xolile George has been, as he said in his CV, a member of the ANC, he still is a member of the ANC and he will be a member of the ANC even tomorrow.”
If there are people who went off the tangent, it was because of their own doing and not the ANC, he said.
Parliament has offered George a five-year performance-based contract with effect from June 15.