Another senior official has left the department of telecommunications & postal services. TechCentral has established that deputy director-general for ICT policy and strategy Themba Phiri has quit.
This comes in the wake of the firing — by SMS — of deputy director-general of international affairs Gift Buthelezi by the director-general, Rosey Sekese.
TechCentral is privy to a host of allegations pertaining to Sekese’s leadership of the department.
These include that the director-general is using internal disciplinary processes to get rid of staff prior to the completion of the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) investigation.
The SIU confirmed at the weekend that its investigations into the department have not been concluded and no charges have been laid against any officials.
Phiri attended telecoms minister Siyabonga Cwele’s budget vote speech on Thursday, sitting just behind the podium from where the minister addressed the parliamentary portfolio committee.
At the end of his speech, Cwele said cryptically: “I am aware of the ongoing leadership challenges which have negatively impacted on the ability of the department to execute its functions timeously.
“I am attending to these challenges as a matter of urgency in order to ensure that the department delivers on its mandate.”
Neither Sekese nor Phiri wanted to comment on developments.
At this stage it’s unclear whether Phiri will take up a position in another government department or entity, given his extensive experience in the public sector.
Earlier this year, Buthelezi, Phiri and deputy director-general for administration Sam Vilakazi sent a letter to Cwele expressing their dissatisfaction with Sekese’s leadership.
According to a source, the letter that the three deputy directors-general sent to Cwele makes various allegations against Sekese, including details about the alleged irregular sub-letting of property in Cape Town that was meant to be used for a government call centre.
Other allegations include that Sekese’s original appointment as a deputy director-general of the department was irregular and that the appointment of consultants to the ICT policy review process was also not above board.
It is also understood an appeal by Cwele to Sekese to reconsider Buthelezi’s dismissal fell on deaf ears.
The developments come amid two probes by the SIU into the affairs of the department.
In March, Democratic Alliance MP Marian Shinn said that she had written to Cwele asking for “clarity on the departmental disciplinary hearings into the controversial R756m Media Corner deal and whether they are irregular”.
The SIU is tasked with investigating the deal, in which Media Corner, a media agency, was paid the money to advertise South Africa’s digital migration programme.
It is understood that Sekese signed off the deal with Media Corner.
Shinn said disciplinary charges against 15 staff members had been initiated without this SIU report being completed and without staff members having access to the report.
The second SIU investigation is into alleged serious maladministration in connection with the affairs of the former department of communications and improper or unlawful conduct by its officials, including unlawful appropriation or expenditure of public money. — © 2015 NewsCentral Media