Communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams has withdrawn the appointment of Newyear Ntuli as administrator of Usaasa, the government agency responsible for bridging the digital divide in South Africa, just seven days after she announced it.
Ntuli has been accused of serious sexual misconduct while working for his previous employer, the South African Post Office, which the minister claimed she was unaware of when she named him as administrator of the perennially troubled Usaasa.
Last week, the minister surprised the ICT sector when she announced she was dissolving the boards of both Usaasa and the State IT Agency and appointing administrators to run them for the next 24 months.
She said Ntuli would be appointed from 1 January as administrator of Usaasa to ensure the successful implementation of South Africa’s long-delayed digital terrestrial television migration project.
But Eyewitness News reported earlier on Thursday that Ntuli had been accused of sexual misconduct.
Current and former Post Office staff told Eyewitness News that they were “shocked” that Ntuli was appointed as he had left the state-owned mail delivery company under a cloud. The news agency said Ntuli had been accused of “groping and spanking women, promising them jobs if they slept with him, or giving away their jobs if they didn’t to those who supposedly did”.
Ndabeni-Abrahams’ spokeswoman, Nthabeleng Mokitimi-Dlamini, told TechCentral on Thursday that the minister has withdrawn her appointment of Ntuli as administrator of Usaasa as a result of the allegations. She emphasised that his appointment, when Ndabeni-Abrahams announced it, was still subject to security vetting and background checks.
The minister was “not aware of the allegations” levelled against Ntuli, which were “also not in the public domain”, Mokitimi-Dlamini said. “Ntuli’s reason for leaving the Post Office is recorded as ‘resignation’,” she added.
“Considering the seriousness of these allegations, the minister deems it necessary to withdraw Ntuli’s appointment.” — (c) 2019 NewsCentral Media