Telecommunications & postal services minister Siyabonga Cwele has suspended the department’s director-general, Rosey Sekese.
The move comes after Sekese was given 72 hours to provide reasons why she shouldn’t be placed on a “precautionary suspension” while the Public Service Commission conducts an investigation into “dysfunction” in the department.
Despite furnishing reasons to Cwele, the minister has decided to suspend Sekese anyway. “After considering the reasons and applying his mind, minister Cwele has decided to place the director-general on precautionary suspension for a period of 60 days while the Public Service Commission conducts its independent inquiry,” a ministry spokesman said in a statement.
“The decision is merely a precautionary step and is not a punishment and the director- general will be on full pay during this period.”
Tinyiko Ngobeni has been appointed as acting director-general until further notice. The probe is expected to take about two months.
The move by the minister comes as industry players become increasingly frustrated by the problems at the department, which have resulted in new policies, crucial to the sector’s development, never seeing the light of day.
Cwele said he has received concerns from individuals, including at a senior level, about the “paralysis” within the department, his office said. “The Public Service Commission reviewed the concerns and determined that the seriousness thereof warrants an independent inquiry.”
Cwele has admitted “ongoing leadership challenges” are “negatively affecting” the department’s “ability to execute its functions timeously”.
Among other things, Cwele wants the independent inquiry to probe “tension” and “destabilisation” in the senior ranks at the department, and the role of Sekese in this.
He also wants an investigation into the circumstances and the role of Sekese in disciplinary action taken against three deputy directors-general, Gift Buthelezi, Themba Phiri and Sam Vilakazi.
Buthelezi and Phiri were fired in recent months, while Vilakazi resigned, but reportedly only after being told that he, too, would be fired.
The Public Service Commission will probe alleged abuse of power and situations of conflict in the relationship with the three DDGs, Cwele said.
Also to be investigated are the “irregular appointment of two employees to the same post of media liaison officer in the office of the deputy minister”.
The probe will also look into “reasons for the inaccuracies on the delegations of authority submitted to the former and current minister” by Sekese and the “lawfulness of the application of the delegations of authority by the former minister of communications to [Sekese], dated 19 September 2013”. – © 2015 NewsCentral Media