Former Parliament employee cross-examines CCMA over promotion
Former parliamentary budget office employee Sean Muller appeared before the CCMA in Cape Town on Thursday to cross-examine staff from Parliament on the circumstances surrounding his unsuccessful application for a promotion at the legislature. The former Parliament employee, who says he was sidelined for refusing to do MPs’ homework, was told at a CCMA hearing that he did not get the highest score in a recruitment process.
In 2016 he alleged that he was overlooked for a promotion because he refused to do favours for MPs, including Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Des van Rooyen. The alleged favours included assisting MPs with academic assignments and writing speeches.
Muller represented himself at the CCMA cross-examination on Thursday morning. He sought to find gaps in the recruitment and appointment process for the deputy director position.
He asked Parliament’s human resources official, Shanaaz Gabier, about the circumstances surrounding the recruitment and whether there had been any adjustments to the panel’s final recommendation for the post, omitting his name as an alternative candidate.
"I was not party to the meeting where the names were forwarded. I can’t comment on whether you were told something other than what was the case about the recommendation," said Gabier.
Muller asked whether his name was mentioned in a preliminary recommendation for the appointment in the recruitment process, to which Gabier answered that he did not make the final cut.
He asked how an internal applicant already working in Parliament who applied for a different position might fare in comparison to an external candidate. Gabier told him that the performance scores of staff members in their current positions did not have any bearing on their application for another post.
"We came together as a panel and deliberated. You were not a recommended candidate for this process," said Gabier. "In this case none of the candidates happened to be Dr Muller. If we were only to take the performance of internal candidates into account, how do we compare that to external candidates?"
Muller contended that there were vast deviations in the preliminary and final scores of candidates, which could have revised his final score in the recruitment process downward. He maintained that these details were pertinent to his final rejection, and that his performance was deliberately disregarded in the process. He also said that if the scores were not adjusted, he would have scored at least as much as the highest-scoring candidate.
CCMA Commissioner Madeleine Loyson was at pains to stress that the commission could not hear irrelevant evidence in the matter, and was only meant to grant an award on the basis of the decision not to appoint Muller for the position.
"The only consideration in the award is the decision by the panel not to appoint you. The decision-making by the panel is what matters, not the number of names they forwarded after the fact," said Loyson.