Pacofs answers questions on woes for the first time


The chairperson of the Performance Arts Council of the Free State (Pacofs), Pieter Lourens, answered questions about the woes at the parastatal for the first time since it made media headlines last year. 

This follows after a series of articles about the problems at Pacofs – such as the exodus of senior managers, the resignation of board members and the suspension of its CEO, Teboho Macholo. Lourens also admitted in parliament that he was "embarrassed" by the Auditor-General's report on Pacofs for the 2014/15 financial year. Lourens confirmed, in answers on detailed questions from Courant, that Nelson Salimani had been appointed on a two-year-old decision made by the previous board. He said in "their management letter on the 2015 audit, the Auditor-General noted that the Council had resolved on 3 December 2013 to appoint Mr Salimani as Chief Financial Officer. The current council ratified this decision on 16 August 2015." This is despite the fact that this resolution, contained in the Shareholders Compact, was not signed. Insiders indicated it was because this decision was in fact reconsidered and subsequently nullified after the workers' union had questioned the process that was followed prior to the appointment. A new resolution – to start a proper process by advertising the post – was then taken. 

Courant learned that Salimani then did not even reach the shortlist, because he did not qualify. Lourens said the post was, however, re-advertised in July last year "prior to the council's decision to ratify the resolution" taken two years ago. He said Salimani did qualify for the post and the fact that Salimani was occupying the two top positions at Pacofs simultaneously at that time, did not create any problems in terms of the requirements of the Public Finance Management Act. "The PFMA requires that council must have a system of financial and internal control. Council felt that this met PFMA requirements," said Lourens.

Meanwhile, Pacofs is facing a lawsuit from a candidate who was shortlisted for the position of CEO. The candidate alleged that although he was the preferred candidate, Macholo was appointed instead. Lourens said "the matter was dealt with by the CEO (Macholo), who is now suspended and the HR manager, who resigned". He said he was, however, not aware of the pending lawsuit. Macholo was suspended after an investigation had been conducted by the board of Pacofs, according to the national department of Arts and Culture. Spokesperson for the department, Lisa Combrinck, said Mocholo was suspended after the board had conducted an investigation. She said he is facing charges of gross dishonesty, gross misconduct, gross negligence, insubordination and failure to act in the best interest of the organisation. – Cathy Dlodlo