‘Of­fi­cials were in­com­pe­tent’

State com­mis­sion says postal ser­vices and tele­coms depart­ment has been crip­pled by man­agers with ‘a lack of knowl­edge’

CityPress - - News - HLENGIWE NHLABATHI hlengiwe.nhlabathi@city­press.co.za

Iin de­fence of our hard-won con­sti­tu­tional democ­racy and the fun­da­men­tal hu­man rights it be­stows upon all cit­i­zens of our land,” said Man­tashe on Fri­day.

“The ANC calls upon all South Africans and all South African na­tional groups to deepen democ­racy by em­brac­ing unity as a cor­ner­stone for a bet­ter South Africa,” he con­cluded. The word ‘racism’ ncom­pe­tent se­nior of­fi­cials were the pri­mary con­trib­u­tor to the paral­y­sis of the depart­ment of telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions and postal ser­vices, a state re­port has found.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­port com­piled by the Pub­lic Ser­vice Com­mis­sion, th­ese man­agers were ille­quipped when it came to knowl­edge about their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and the var­i­ous gov­er­nance pro­cesses in the pub­lic ser­vice.

The re­port was com­mis­sioned by Min­is­ter Siyabonga Cwele to in­ves­ti­gate the lead­er­ship cri­sis in his crip­pled depart­ment, which has not been able to im­ple­ment some of its key poli­cies, in­clud­ing the roll-out of broad­band in South Africa.

The in­ter­nal sit­u­a­tion was not sus­tain­able, the com­mis­sion found.

Cwele was caught in the cross­fire of the vi­ciously com­pet­i­tive fights be­tween di­rec­tor-gen­eral (DG) Rosey Sekese and her deputy di­rec­tors-gen­eral as they tried to set­tle scores car­ried over from the for­mer depart­ment of com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

The com­mis­sion found that at the cen­tre of the de­part­men­tal con­flict and mis­un­der­stand­ings, es­pe­cially those be­tween Sekese and her deputies, was “a lack of knowl­edge of the leg­isla­tive frame­work gov­ern­ing the pub­lic ser­vice”.

The com­mis­sion said the most se­nior man­agers in the depart­ment had lim­ited knowl­edge about crit­i­cal gov­er­nance pro­cesses re­lat­ing to hu­man re­sources and sup­ply chain man­age­ment.

“It points to a se­ri­ous lack of ef­fec­tive­ness in per­form­ing their du­ties and may be re­garded as in­com­pe­tence,” reads the re­port, dated De­cem­ber 8 2015, but yet to be re­leased.

It rec­om­mends that Cwele “should con­duct a skills au­dit of hu­man re­sources man­age­ment ca­pac­ity to iden­tify gaps and ini­ti­ate train­ing to as­sist in en­sur­ing com­pli­ance with pre­vail­ing pre­scripts”.

The re­port, com­mis­sioned by Cwele last Novem­ber, re­serves its most damn­ing find­ings for Sekese.

She said she had not seen the re­port but threat­ened to sub­mit it for ju­di­cial re­view.

The re­port rec­om­mends that Cwele take ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tion for, among other things, fail­ing to demon­strate that she was fit and proper to hold her po­si­tion in the depart­ment, as she did not ad­e­quately deal with dis­ci­plinary cases against her deputies.

It also found that she un­der­mined Cwele by not lis­ten­ing to him.

“She did not main­tain a high level of pro­fes­sion­al­ism and in­tegrity, as she failed to recog­nise her role as DG and that of the ex­ec­u­tive au­thor­ity, as pro­vided for in the Pub­lic Ser­vice Act, in that she did not for­mally in­form the min­is­ter of the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the sanc­tions be­fore she served the let­ters of dis­missal to the [deputies] and ig­nored the min­is­ter’s in­struc­tions to sus­pend dis­ci­plinary-re­lated mat­ters in the depart­ment.

“She un­der­mined the au­thor­ity of Cwele af­ter she failed to in­form him about the dis­missal of [deputy di­rec­tor-gen­eral] Gift Buthelezi. This may have im­pacted neg­a­tively on the rep­u­ta­tion of the min­is­ter.” fea­tured six times and ‘racist’ twice.

Man­tashe then went into con­spir­acy the­ory mode, ac­cus­ing the US of plot­ting regime change in South Africa by send­ing bright young South Africans to that coun­try on lead­er­ship pro­grammes as part of the not-so-se­cret Man­dela Wash­ing­ton Fel­low­ship.

“We are aware of the pro­gramme that takes

Buthelezi was the deputy for in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions tasked with the roll-out of broad­band. He was fired in March via SMS for fail­ing to carry out his du­ties and in­sub­or­di­na­tion. Buthelezi claimed the charges were “fab­ri­cated”. He has threat­ened to go to court af­ter the fi­nal­i­sa­tion of the state in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Mean­while, other find­ings re­late to Sekese’s over­re­liance on lawyers, which the com­mis­sion con­cluded “showed she was weak when it came to de­ci­sion mak­ing”.

“The depart­ment in­curred le­gal ser­vices on the goods and ser­vices bud­get amount­ing to R9 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to the 2014/15 an­nual re­port.”

Cwele has al­ready in­sti­tuted dis­ci­plinary pro­ceed­ings against Sekese. City Press un­der­stands that a se­nior ad­vo­cate has been roped in for Sekese’s dis­ci­plinary hear­ing in spite of rec­om­men­da­tions by the com­mis­sion against the use of le­gal ser­vices for dis­ci­plinary cases.

The com­mis­sion wants Cwele to ini­ti­ate a process of train­ing se­nior man­agers to be depart­ment rep­re­sen­ta­tives and chair­per­sons for dis­ci­plinary hear­ings “to strengthen in­ter­nal ca­pac­ity”.

Sekese is not the only one fin­gered in the re­port. Three of her deputies, who left the depart­ment amid hos­tile cir­cum­stances in a space of five months, have been given their share of the blame.

The com­mis­sion found that they had cor­rob­o­rated Sekese’s ver­sion that they had snubbed meet­ings, un­der­mined Cwele’s au­thor­ity and or­ches­trated at­tempts to dis­credit Sekese. In the process, they “failed to dis­charge their du­ties with the re­quired de­gree and care and dili­gence that is ex­pected of se­nior man­agers”.

While the com­mis­sion did not make any defini­tive find­ings about Cwele, it sug­gested he had com­pro­mised the prin­ci­ple of ac­count­abil­ity and per­for­mance young peo­ple to the US for six weeks, then brings them back and plants them ev­ery­where in the cam­puses,” roared Man­tashe as the ANC mem­bers and sup­port­ers ap­plauded his courage fu­ri­ously.

True to tra­di­tion, a few hours later, Man­tashe told a Gaut­eng talk ra­dio sta­tion that he had been mis­quoted. Go fig­ure. man­age­ment. He had still not signed Sekese’s per­for­mance as­sess­ment for the pe­riod 2015/16.

This would have pro­vided Cwele with an early de­tec­tion mech­a­nism, the com­mis­sion sug­gests.

Sekese told City Press on Fri­day that al­though she had yet to see the fi­nal re­port, she was pre­pared to fight to clear her name in court. She de­nied that she had splurged on le­gal ser­vices. She had of­ten ob­tained le­gal opin­ion from the chief state law ad­viser, sep­a­rately from the cases which the depart­ment had to fight, she said.

Sekese also in­sisted that she had gone ahead with dis­ci­plinary cases against her deputies based on a le­gal opin­ion. Cwele was wrong to have tried to stop her, she said. She claimed to have brought this to his at­ten­tion.

It is un­der­stood that the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the two broke down af­ter that.

“I was ob­jec­tive all along. The only thing I did was to en­sure ev­ery em­ployee was given fair process through seek­ing le­gal opin­ion from state law ad­vis­ers at not cost to the depart­ment,” said Sekese.

She also ques­tioned why the min­is­ter, as the ex­ec­u­tive au­thor­ity, had not shoul­dered any re­spon­si­bil­ity. She dis­missed the find­ing that she was in­com­pe­tent.

“I don’t doubt my ca­pa­bil­i­ties. I don’t doubt my com­pe­ten­cies. The role of the DG is a very com­plex po­si­tion, es­pe­cially if you are man­ag­ing a depart­ment with prob­lems and [have] al­le­ga­tions lev­elled against you. You rely on the min­is­ter for the per­for­mance of the depart­ment,” she said.

“The role of the DG is in­ter­twined with that of a min­is­ter. When you see a depart­ment that ex­cels, it’s through the min­is­ter do­ing his or her part.”

Cwele was ex­pected to re­lease the re­port later this year. He was still “ap­ply­ing his mind” to it, he said.

Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions and Postal Ser­vices Min­is­ter

Siyabonga Cwele

Di­rec­tor-gen­eral

Rosey Sekese

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