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MBABANE - Eight employees of ESPPRA were promoted and remunerated at a high scale under questionable circumstances.

A consultant hired to investigate unfair labour practices, among other things, at the Eswatini Public Procurement Regulatory Agency(ESPPRA) did not find evidence that these promotions and salary increments were approved in terms of the Public Enterprise Unit (PEU) Act. The salaries were increased at different scales, ranging from 27 per cent to 8.7 per cent.
One employee’s salary rose from E427 174.92 to E520 899.92 per annum, translating to a new pay of E43 408 per month. In its findings, the consultant pointed out that the Executive Committee (EXCO) was not properly constituted when the decision to effect the promotions and salary increments was taken.


The meeting was held on May 11, 2020. It is said that two managerial positions were neither advertised internally or externally. Names of the staff members are being withheld pending further investigation into the matter. ESPPRA is a government parastatal. “Any interested candidate was deprived of the opportunity to apply and be considered. The agency has not tested the labour market, whether there were better skilled individuals,” a source said. The qualifications for certain employees, some of whom hold managerial positions, raised more questions than answers. As a result, the consultant recommended that another investigation be instituted to vet the qualifications of the promoted employees and to determine whether they were best suited for their new roles.

An investigation into a possible contravention of the PEU Act on what constituted ‘major’ had also been recommended. It is said that the probe should establish whether the increments were sanctioned by the relevant ministry. If not, it has been recommended that the Board should take remedial action. Our sister publication, The Times Sunday, established that it was also suggested to ESPPRA that an enquiry be instituted to determine that a professional diploma (CIPS) was equivalent to a degree.


CIPS qualifications are the industry standard for anybody working in the procurement and supply industry. With the help of global organisations, CIPS offers five qualifications, which have been developed to ensure they cover the competences and capabilities required in the procurement field. When justifying the promotions and subsequent increments, the EXCO claimed the CIPS that one promoted employee attained, was actually equivalent to a degree. The consultant was concerned that one employee in possession of a Master’s Degree was overlooked when ESPPRA employees were considered for the promotions. A great deal for concern was that diploma holders were occupying key positions and earning above E40 000.
When he assumed office last year, impeccable sources said the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Vusi Matsebula, queried some of the anomalies mentioned in the report of investigation into allegations of unfair labour practice at ESPPRA.

However, sources said his queries received strong resistance. It is understood that the CEO found that files for employees, including management, kept in the Human Resources (HR) Department, lacked basic academic qualifications. In fact, this newspaper further established that about five HR files for key positions lacked the prerequisite Form V certificates.
Facing hostilities and resistance from staff, legal advice sought has it that those who were refusing to submit their Form V certificates could be charged with insubordination. During a recruitment exercise sometime ago, it was discovered that the consultant allegedly allowed candidates to access the internet during the interviews. The interviews had to be rewritten for some staff members of the ESPPRA.

Classified information revealed that the ESPPRA Remuneration Committee (REMCO) convened a meeting on May 16, 2023, in which they discovered that one of the top managers did not have a performance contract. Despite the unavailability of the performance contract, the CEO reportedly suggested that the manager’s contract be renewed. REMCO reserved its recommendation on the renewal of the contract until it was provided with a Board paper approving the renewal of the contract. It could not be ascertained at the time of going to press whether the Board approved the renewal of the contract. One officer in the Audit Department was confirmed to a managerial position on condition that he should enroll and complete an audit qualification within a time frame that would be decided by the Board.


It has been established that the human capital officer acted as head of the department since February 9, 2020.  During the REMCO meeting, the CEO reportedly mentioned that the human capital officer was a holder of a diploma, but presently pursuing a degree in human resources. It was mentioned that the officer had written a letter to REMCO, requesting to be appointed to the human capital manager in training. Classified information further revealed that the office of the CEO recommended that the human capital officer be confirmed to the position of head of human capital or human capital manager in training as per her request. Reacting to the CEO’s request, REMCO wanted to know why the position of head of human capital was not advertised in line with the Board’s instruction.

The committee heard that the acting head of human capital was given a mandate to recruit the substantive head of the department. The committee could not recall any recruitment taking place. The members of the committee viewed this as a dereliction of duty. As the new management tries to resolve the issues, it has been established that some employees had written a letter to the Board complaining of some form of harassment. One employee is said to have made serious allegations against a certain senior manager. Several sources within the entity are of the belief that the employee has resorted to a smear campaign to stop any intended move to restore order at ESPPRA. Matsebula, the CEO, declined to comment on the matter and pointed out that he was not permitted to address private company matters in the media. He said the sources who might have leaked delicate information on the matter faced disciplinary action.

He was advised that ESPPRA is a public entity funded by taxpayers. Matsebula mentioned that it was his duty to empower and protect his staff as opposed to talking about them in the public space. Harry Nxumalo, the Chairman of the Board, said nothing had been brought to the attention of his office (Board), therefore, he found it difficult to make a meaningful comment. Nxumalo said the entity had a new CEO, clinging to the adage that a new broom sweeps clean. “We can only pray that quality standards be maintained at ESPPRA,” he said. He said ESPPRA was an organisation expected to set standards and lead by example in uplifting integrity and the economy of the country. Nxumalo mentioned that a former minister of finance once disclosed that the country was losing E80 million per month in corruption, imploring ESPPRA to ensure integrity in public finance was being restored. On average, procurement officers in South Africa receive a salary of E43 973 per month. Eswatini’s public enterprises are known for salaries understood to be market-related while others believe that their remunerations are high.