JRA’s CEO qualifications questioned and placed on special leave

THE JOHANNEBSURG Roads Agency (JRA) chief executive officer (CEO) Tshepo Mahanuke has been placed on a temporary suspension amid questions over his qualifications.

Mahanuke, who was appointed in August this year, has been placed on special leave with immediate effect pending the outcome of the re-authentication of his qualifications.

The decision was taken after the JRA board convened a special meeting to consider the issues pertaining to the allegations around the credentials of the CEO.

“The resolution reached was to place the CEO on special leave, effective immediately until the outcome of the re-authentication process is finalised,” JRA board chairperson Thabo Motloung said in a statement on Thursday.

The process of authenticating Mahanuke’s qualifications is expected to conclude on 30 November, while an interim CEO has been appointed.

Questions around Mahanuke’s credentials came in the spotlight this week after Daily Maverick reported that the JRA CEO claimed to have a Harvard master’s degree that doesn’t exist.

According to Daily Maverick, the JRA CEO’s honorary doctorate from the Trinity International University of Ambassadors could be bought for a small “support honorarium” and that his master’s degree in competitive intelligence from ACI College is not actually offered at Harvard Business School.

His CV reportedly states that he received an “undergraduate engineering degree from the Vaal University of Technology (VUT)”, but he holds a diploma after completing an engineering technician course.

City of Joburg mayor Mpho Phalatse on Monday called for an investigation into the allegations and said she had requested a full report from Motloung and MMC for transport, Funzela Ngobeni.

Mahanuke has, however, argued that these allegations were false and said he believed he was the right man for the job.

“That is not correct, I have a degree, let us start with a national diploma in mechanical engineering, bachelor’s degree in operations management from Vaal University of Technology. I have seen the allegations and that information is not true. I have a degree and it’s actually even plugged online,” he told 702.

He also distanced himself from the Harvard master’s degree claims.

“I never claimed that. I never went to Bible college, I distance myself from the comments, I have seen the publication that came in around 3am and we are still consulting to get a better understanding what is it about.

“My doctorate is honorary, I do confirm that, it is up to you to decide on what you wish to abstract out of that,” Mahanuke said.

Meanwhile, Ngobeni put out a statement on the matter, saying Mahanuke “was ultimately deemed to be the successful candidate” for the CEO position.

“The minimum requirements for the post, as advertised, were a Bachelors Degree in Operational Management or Business or Engineering or relevant NOP level 7 equivalent,” he said.

“From the onset, Mr. Mahanuke declared in his CV that the doctorate that has caused much consternation in the public sphere was in fact an honorary degree. In fact, the CV submitted by Mr Mahanuke as part of his application for the position clearly distinguishes earned qualifications from those bestowed upon him. It is these qualifications that were considered.”

He said it was not true that Mahanuke had embellished his CV.

“I accept that there are conventions governing the use of a title arising from an honorary degree that may have been broken and caused concern, but equally, I accept that Mahanuke neither willfully misled myself or the board in any way nor pretended to possess qualifications he did not earn,” Ngobeni said.

“Any honorary degree Mr Mahanuke was bestowed carried no weight in the decision to appoint him CEO of the JRA. Further to that, no evidence has been presented to me that Mr Mahanuke offered any inducements In return for an honorary award.”

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