Usaasa, the government agency responsible for addressing telecommunications coverage in underserviced areas, has quietly suspended its CEO, Lumko Mtimde, but is not saying why.
The agency, which falls under the ministry of telecommunications & postal services, confirmed to TechCentral on Thursday that Mtimde has been placed on “precautionary suspension”. This happened on 14 March.
News of Mtimde’s suspension first came to light last week when Usaasa presented its annual performance plan to parliament, where chairman Mawethu Cawe introducing Sipho Mngqibisa as acting CEO.
“The CEO was placed on precautionary suspension pending a disciplinary hearing,” Usaasa said in response to questions from TechCentral. “The suspension relates to allegations of various acts of misconduct.”
The agency said disciplinary hearings are “internal processes between the employer and employee, and as such they are confidential unless permission is obtained from the employee” to discuss them.
It said Mtimde took the Usaasa board to the labour court on 24 April on an urgent basis and his application was dismissed with costs. Mtimde told TechCentral that the court has only decided it won’t hear the matter on an urgent basis and that it will still consider the case “on the normal court roll”.
Mngqibisa will act as CEO pending the conclusion of the disciplinary process, the agency said.
Cawe told MPs in parliament last week that Mngqibisa had been chosen to fill the position on an interim basis due to his experience and many years working with Usaasa as well as his experience working at the department of communications and at communications regulator Icasa.
ANC MP Juli Kilian asked the Usaasa board if it had communicated officially to the parliamentary committee chair or secretary regarding Mtimde’s suspension and disciplinary hearing. If so, she asked for copies of the communication to be distributed to members of the committee. Cawe said he would check if there had been any correspondence and, if not, would ensure it was sent. — (c) 2018 NewsCentral Media
- This is a developing story … more to follow on Friday