Moral Com­pass and Pivot of Roads Agency Limpopo

AND PIVOT OF ROADS AGENCY LIMPOPO

Mmileng - - Contents -

The glue that holds the Board of Direc­tors and the ex­ec­u­tive man­age­ment of the Roads Agency Limpopo (RAL) to­gether is an am­bivert wo­man who can stand her ground.

Te­bogo Kekana has been serv­ing as the RAL Com­pany Sec­re­tary with dis­tinc­tion since her ap­point­ment by the board in 2015. She has served two boards since RAL was ef­fec­tively re­turned from be­ing placed un­der Sec­tion 100 ad­min­is­tra­tion be­tween 2011 and 2014 af­ter a tu­mul­tuous pe­riod of mis­man­age­ment and sys­tem­atic fail­ure of cor­po­rate gov­er­nance. “The Board has a good re­la­tion­ship with man­age­ment and that makes work­ing with the Chair­per­son and the CEO a pleas­ant ex­pe­ri­ence, as I never find my­self caught be­tween two dif­fer­ing views or po­si­tions,” says Ms Kekana, a mid­dle child her­self with two sib­lings – an older sis­ter and a younger brother.

At RAL, the Com­pany Sec­re­tary re­ports to the Chair­per­son of the Board of Direc­tors func­tion­ally, but ad­min­is­tra­tively re­ports to the Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer (CEO).

A Com­pany Sec­re­tary, gener­i­cally, is the chief cor­po­rate gov­er­nance of­fi­cer of an en­tity. The King IV Re­port (2016) on Cor­po­rate Gov­er­nance best sums a Com­pany Sec­re­tary in one word as the “con­science” of a com­pany.

The pri­mary role of a Com­pany Sec­re­tary is to give guid­ance and ad­vice to the Board, as a col­lec­tive, and to the Direc­tors, in­di­vid­u­ally, on their du­ties and on all laws and reg­u­la­tions that the com­pany is sub­jected to. A Com­pany Sec­re­tary also has to en­sure that man­age­ment ex­e­cutes all res­o­lu­tions taken by the Board in a man­ner as de­ter­mined by the Board.

“In ad­di­tion to the com­mon law du­ties of a Com­pany Sec­re­tary, there are those statu­tory du­ties that are pre­scribed by Sec­tion 88 of the Com­pa­nies Act, No 71 of 2008, which in­clude amongst oth­ers, en­sur­ing pro­ceed­ings at board meet­ings are prop­erly recorded and kept safe; bring­ing to the at­ten­tion of the Board any law that is ap­pli­ca­ble to or af­fects RAL; cer­ti­fy­ing that all re­turns are lodged and filed, and en­sur­ing that An­nual Fi­nan­cial State­ments are sub­mit­ted to the share­holder within the pre­scribed pe­riod,” says Ms Kekana.

The share­holder of RAL is the Limpopo Provin­cial gov­ern­ment and in­cum­bent MEC for the Limpopo De­part­ment of Pub­lic Works, Roads and In­fra­struc­ture acts as its rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

She says the conceptualisation of the 2015-2020 turn­around strat­egy and its im­ple­men­ta­tion has been very ben­e­fi­cial for RAL. “I keep a res­o­lu­tion reg­is­ter that records and en­sures that all res­o­lu­tions that should be im­ple­mented by man­age­ment are ex­e­cuted ac­cord­ingly.”

She says when the Board as­sumed its ten­ure in 2014; they de­vel­oped a turn­around strat­egy to im­prove the per­for­mance of RAL in ac­cor­dance with its pre­de­ter­mined ob­jec­tives and to en­sure an im­proved au­dit out­come.

“The Board, through man­age­ment, im­ple­mented the strat­egy so thor­oughly that RAL moved from a dis­claimer in 2012/13, and ad­verse au­dit opin­ions for the 2013/14 and 2014/15 fi­nan­cial years, to qual­i­fied and un­qual­i­fied au­dit opin­ions in the 2015/16 and 2016/17 fi­nan­cial years re­spec­tively.”

Ms Kekana is a town­ship girl, born and raised in Mah­wel­ereng on the pe­riph­ery of Mokopane in the Water­berg Dis­trict Mu­nic­i­pal­ity of Limpopo Prov­ince. De­spite the then de­mure and gauche teenager at­tend­ing lower and se­nior pri­mary schools in the lo­cal­ity of home, at No­ma­lema and Nonchimudi re­spec­tively, her for­ma­tive years got revved-up at the hot­house of board­ing school at Pres­tige Col­lege in Ham­man­skraal, out­side Pre­to­ria be­fore go­ing to ma­tric­u­late at First Na­tional Col­lege (FNC) in City Deep, Jo­han­nes­burg in 1995.

“THE CONCEPTUALISATION OF THE 2015-2020 TURN­AROUND STRAT­EGY AND ITS IM­PLE­MEN­TA­TION HAS BEEN VERY BEN­E­FI­CIAL FOR RAL”

She cred­its her dis­ci­plinar­ian fa­ther, who is her first role model, for steer­ing her early ca­reer path. Her fa­ther wouldn’t coun­te­nance her study­ing to­wards any qual­i­fi­ca­tion other than medicine, law or qual­i­fi­ca­tions of such so­ci­etal grav­i­tas that wouldn’t lead to a ‘good job’.

Her ear­lier wish, for the record, was to be a cre­ative in the fash­ion world.

Her te­dious ed­u­ca­tional jour­ney con­tin­ued with a cou­ple of hic­cups af­ter school. First up, she reg­is­tered for a Bach­e­lor of Arts De­gree (Lin­guis­tics and An­thro­pol­ogy) at the Univer­sity of the Wit­wa­ter­srand, but af­ter a for­get­table year she fi­nally ca­pit­u­lated to parental pref­er­ence and en­rolled for a Bach­e­lor of Laws (LLB) de­gree with the Univer­sity of South Africa.

How­ever, her restive per­son­al­ity, be­ing a teenager, did not match the dis­ci­pline re­quired of dis­tance learn­ing, and her fa­ther posted her to a res­i­den­tial univer­sity.

There, at the Univer­sity of the North (the now Univer­sity of Limpopo) – the law fac­ulty of which is renowned for pro­duc­ing re­spectable grad­u­ates - she con­tin­ued with her le­gal stud­ies in 1999, com­plet­ing the four-year LLB in 2002. Even at that alma mater she hardly found her feet, as she puts it, “cam­pus was so much out of my com­fort zone that I had to get my de­gree and leave.” But the rest, as the cliché goes, is his­tory. Notwith­stand­ing, for an out­sider at least, that her re­doubtable fa­ther might have stud­ied vi­car­i­ously through her, she ad­mits hav­ing grown to em­brace the ca­reer cho­sen for her.

“I am thank­ful to him to­day be­cause I can­not imag­ine my­self as any other pro­fes­sional than as a lawyer,” she says glee­fully.

“My fa­ther fol­lowed an as­pi­ra­tional ca­reer him­self, and be­lieved I too should achieve no less.”

Prior to join­ing RAL, Ms Kekana had stints as Com­pany Sec­re­tary at Limpopo Busi­ness Sup­port Agency (LIBSA), a fore­run­ner for the Limpopo Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Agency (LEDA), and lat­terly at Cor­ri­dor Min­ing Re­sources - a sub­sidiary of LEDA, un­der full con­trol of the provin­cial gov­ern­ment through the Limpopo De­part­ment of Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment, En­vi­ron­ment and Tourism.

But be­fore she got ex­posed to the Com­pany Sec­re­tary ca­reer path though, she had le­gal stints in as di­verse en­vi­ron­ments, and per­haps on the con­ti­nent, as jux­ta­posed, as a mil­i­tary le­gal prac­ti­tioner in the South African Na­tional De­fence Force (Army) and as a le­gal ad­vi­sor for a hu­man rights NGO.

She is now closer to com­plet­ing her qual­i­fi­ca­tion as a Char­tered Sec­re­tary, which will ce­ment her role as a cor­po­rate gov­er­nance spe­cial­ist.

How­ever, she is also at the cusp of the start of a next age decade. This is the age when, ac­cord­ing to psy­chol­o­gists, peo­ple have in­cli­na­tion to make ma­jor life de­ci­sions or re­visit un­ful­filled life goals. More so for her, what’s with the mantra that life be­gins at 40.

But they say old habits die hard. She has now set her­self a new goal of end­ing as a judge or Speaker of the Na­tional As­sem­bly in the Par­lia­ment of the Repub­lic of South Africa.

Her en­dear­ing and radiant smile is an un­pleas­ant fa­cade of her oner­ous phys­i­o­log­i­cal tribu­la­tions. She has been liv­ing with En­dometrio­sis, a com­mon and yet si­lent in­cur­able con­di­tion that af­fects mil­lions of women, since she was barely a teenager.

Since she was even­tu­ally di­ag­nosed six­teen years ago, she has come to em­brace her con­di­tion. She has a foun­da­tion and is an un­tir­ing ac­tivist in rais­ing aware­ness of fe­male re­pro­duc­tive health med­i­cal con­di­tions. Her goal is for the Coun­cil for Med­i­cal Schemes to recog­nise these con­di­tions and add them to the list of chronic ill­nesses in terms of the schemes ben­e­fit struc­tures.

“I’d also like to fight to see the cost of re­pro­duc­tive health treat­ments for con­di­tions like Ade­no­myosis, En­dometrio­sis and infertility re­duced so that ev­ery fe­male per­son who needs them can have ac­cess to those treat­ments,” she says.

As she pre­vi­ously re­vealed in a ‘RAL Cares’ fea­ture (Mmileng, Q1 2017), she has had an aver­age of two sur­gi­cal pro­ce­dures a year. A sur­gi­cal pro­ce­dure is the next, and only, treat­ment op­tion avail­able at the mo­ment when the ini­tial med­i­ca­tion treat­ment fails. Ever ir­re­press­ible, in­ci­den­tally part of Ms Kekana’s Mmileng Big In­ter­view was done be­tween one of her hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tions and con­va­lesc­ing.

“I also want em­ploy­ers to recog­nise these con­di­tions as a pan­demic af­fect­ing half of the work­force in the work­place.”

Pro­fes­sion­ally, she is in the process of de­vel­op­ing a com­pre­hen­sive en­ter­prise-wide com­pli­ance check­list that, she hopes, will help in check­ing whether or not RAL com­plies with all statu­tory and reg­u­la­tory re­quire­ments ap­pli­ca­ble to it.

“This will as­sist in keep­ing the Board ap­prised of the com­pli­ance sta­tus of RAL on a quar­terly ba­sis,” she says.

“The im­me­di­ate pri­or­ity in the last cou­ple of years had been to ad­dress the his­tor­i­cal dam­age that had been in­flicted on the or­gan­i­sa­tion. This re­dress was done by, amongst other things, in­tro­duc­ing in­ter­nal con­trols and sys­tems to en­sure ad­e­quate and ef­fi­cient man­age­ment of the af­fairs of RAL.”

She said it is sat­is­fac­tory that RAL has re­tained its un­qual­i­fied au­dit opin­ion from the Au­di­tor-Gen­eral of South Africa for the 2017/18 fi­nan­cial year with­out re­gress­ing. And she ex­pects the Agency to have achieved a clean au­dit opin­ion by 2019/20 fi­nan­cial year when the cur­rent Medium-Term Ex­pen­di­ture Frame­work (MTEF) pe­riod lapses. (Story on page 10)

“THE IM­ME­DI­ATE PRI­OR­ITY … HAD BEEN TO AD­DRESS THE HIS­TOR­I­CAL DAM­AGE … IN­FLICTED ON THE OR­GAN­I­SA­TION.”

Kekana is happy with the im­ple­men­ta­tion of RAL’s turn­around strat­egy and ex­pects RAL to achieve a clean au­dit opin­ion within the next two fi­nan­cial years.

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