Democratic Alliance MP Marian Shinn has described the move by telecommunications & postal services minister Siyabonga Cwele and the Public Service Commission to launch an independent probe into the problems besetting the troubled telecoms department as “wonderful news”.
“I was going to suggest something along these lines at our portfolio committee meeting on the department’s first quarter performance results tomorrow,” Shinn said in reaction to a statement by Cwele that the PSC will conduct a probe into what he has called the “dysfunction of the department”.
Cwele is considering placing department director-general Rosey Sekese on “precautionary leave” while the probe takes place, and has given her 72 hours to furnish him with reasons why she shouldn’t go on a fully paid leave of absence until the investigated is completed.
“It is heartening to see that the minister has at last shown some leadership skills on this matter as the disintegration of the department since he took over and left Sekese to run the show was glaringly apparent,” Shinn told TechCentral on Monday.
“When I challenged him in the national assembly on the manner in which she was handling internal disciplinary matters, he batted me off as if this was a non-issue,” Shinn said.
“I am of the view that Sekese is out of her depth and lacks leadership skills to run the department. Her experience in the sector was questionable. Her performance before the previous portfolio committee on communications clearly illustrated that she did not have a basic understanding of the laws of contract, hence her lying to parliament about her performance agreement with the minister.
“Cwele must not hesitate to place her on leave for the duration of the enquiry,” Shinn said.
Department spokesman Thulani Ngubane said Sekese does not intending commenting, at least for now, on the latest developments.
Earlier on Monday, Cwele said he had received “concerns” from individuals, including at a senior level, about the “paralysis” within the department. “The PSC 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 PSC will probe alleged abuse of power and situations of conflict in the relationship with the three deputy directors-general, 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