Samsa whis­tle-blow­ers ask min­is­ter to in­ter­vene

CityPress - - News - SIZWE SAMA YENDE sizwe.yende@city­press.co.za

Dis­grun­tled SA Mar­itime Safety Author­ity (Samsa) em­ploy­ees have asked for Trans­port Min­is­ter Joe Maswan­ganyi’s in­ter­ven­tion in end­ing “ar­bi­trary” salary in­creases and a jobs-for-pals scan­dal at the paras­tatal.

Staff mem­bers at the head of­fice of Samsa – a paras­tatal tasked with mar­itime safety, com­bat­ing mar­itime pol­lu­tion and pro­mot­ing the coun­try’s mar­itime in­ter­ests – de­scribed the in­sti­tu­tion to City Press as a boat be­ing sunk by nepo­tism and crony­ism.

City Press is in pos­ses­sion of a com­plaint writ­ten by whis­tle-blow­ers to Min­is­ter Maswan­ganyi list­ing a num­ber of al­le­ga­tions against act­ing CEO Sobantu Ti­layi.

In the doc­u­ment they ask Maswan­ganyi to in­ves­ti­gate em­ploy­ment and fi­nan­cial ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties at the paras­tatal be­fore ap­point­ing a new CEO. Ti­layi has been act­ing CEO for about a year.

The com­plaint states that:

. A se­nior man­ager (whose name is known to City Press) with only a ma­tric cer­tifi­cate was re­in­stated to his job af­ter tes­ti­fy­ing against for­mer CEO Tsi­etsi Mokhele in an in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion. The man­ager had been sus­pended but his sus­pen­sion was lifted with­out his un­der­go­ing the full dis­ci­plinary process;

. A hu­man re­sources of­fi­cer em­ployed last year had her R724 000 salary in­ex­pli­ca­bly in­creased to R1.5 mil­lion within a year of her em­ploy­ment;

. Ti­layi’s close friend was ap­pointed as re­gional man­ager with­out hav­ing the nec­es­sary qual­i­fi­ca­tions;

. Posts were filled with­out them hav­ing been ad­ver­tised; and

. An of­fi­cial’s salary was in­creased from R862 000 to R1.7 mil­lion on the ba­sis of an un­sub­stan­ti­ated agree­ment with the for­mer CEO.

“Ti­layi has al­legedly ap­proved back pay­ments from 2013 and an ad­just­ment of his salary pack­age with­out any doc­u­men­ta­tion that proves that the for­mer CEO in­deed in­creased his salary,” the com­plaint said.

Ti­layi de­nied that he ar­bi­trar­ily in­creased salaries and blamed his pre­de­ces­sor for reneg­ing on prom­ises he made to em­ploy­ees.

“There have been no ar­bi­trary salary in­creases. When I took over, em­ploy­ees do­ing sim­i­lar jobs were paid vastly dif­fer­ently. Cer­tain em­ploy­ees were com­plain­ing that they were earn­ing less than what they were be­fore join­ing Samsa. A few em­ploy­ees re­signed be­cause of this and a few more were threat­en­ing to re­sign, thus caus­ing a great deal of in­sta­bil­ity,” Ti­layi said.

Trans­port spokesper­son Ish­mael Mnisi did not re­spond to ques­tions sent to him by email, text and voice mes­sage.

The staff’s com­plaint al­leged that the or­gan­i­sa­tion did not have a for­mal per­for­mance man­age­ment or job grad­ing sys­tem.

It said that al­though it listed a few high-pro­file cases for in­ves­ti­ga­tion, there were sim­i­lar cases in­volv­ing ju­nior and mid­dle man­age­ment staff who have also had salary ad­just­ments, de­spite the com­pany strug­gling fi­nan­cially.

Ti­layi said he had started a process of salary grad­ing to re­solve the “big mess” he in­her­ited.

“None of the ad­just­ments we made was base­less … The fact of the mat­ter is that I in­her­ited a big mess that had caused much un­hap­pi­ness and peo­ple stayed be­cause they had not found bet­ter em­ploy­ment else­where. This was al­ways a tick­ing time bomb,” he ar­gued.

The com­plaint also pointed out that there had been an in­crease in le­gal chal­lenges by staff mem­bers, in­clud­ing ex­ec­u­tives, who had been dis­missed or had their con­tracts ir­reg­u­larly ter­mi­nated.

The board, the com­plaint charged, had failed to ad­dress al­le­ga­tions of fraud from whis­tle-blow­ers and in­stead placed a cor­rup­tion-bust­ing hot­line in the hands of of­fi­cials im­pli­cated in wrong­do­ing.

PHOTO: MANDLA MNYAKAMA

SA Mar­itime Safety Author­ity act­ing CEO Sobantu Ti­layi (left) says he has in­her­ited a ‘big mess’

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