Suspended communications department director-general Rosey Sekese has returned to work, but there’s still no official word on why she was placed on “special leave” in the first place.
Sekese, who was sent home on enforced leave in mid-January, returned to work on Wednesday this week. However, a source with knowledge of the department says the director-general has been stripped of some of her decision-making powers.
It’s understood from those close to the department that communications minister Dina Pule and Sekese, who first joined the department in 2006 as a deputy director-general, do not see eye to eye on key issues.
Though the ministry of communications has not said why she was suspended — insisting that it was an internal matter not for public consumption — the move by Pule to put her on special leave came two months after “a consensus” by parliament’s portfolio committee on communications that she had “misled” parliament regarding the signing of her performance agreement for the 2012/2013 financial year.
Though she’s back at her desk, another source who claims to have knowledge of the situation says that Sekese has been stripped of her powers to make human resources-related decisions, meaning she doesn’t have the ability to hire and fire staff.
TechCentral forwarded questions to Pule’s spokesman, Siya Qoza, who said on Friday that the minister was in meetings and unable to respond immediately. Department spokesman Pearl Seopela confirmed that the director-general was back at her desk, and had been since Wednesday, but said she was not aware of her being stripped of any decision-making authority.
In November 2012, the parliamentary portfolio committee asked Pule to look into Sekese’s performance agreement. This came after Sekese told the committee that she had a performance agreement for 2012/2013. During deliberations, she was asked for evidence to support this. Two documents were provided and these were circulated among committee members.
After studying the two contracts, committee chairman Eric Kholwane said they were “two unidentical documents which did not have the signatures of both parties”. Legal counsel to parliament advised that this meant there was, in fact, no legally binding contract between Sekese and Pule.
“The committee acted on the recommendation provided by legal counsel to refer the matter back to the minister to deal with and act upon and accordingly the minister will report to the committee on her course of action,” Kholwane said at the time.
Kholwane told TechCentral on Friday that Pule had not provided feedback to the committee.
Department deputy director-general Gift Buthelezi acted as director-general while Sekese was on special leave. — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media (with some background reporting by Sapa)