Minister’s deputy turns to Zuma in power dispute
Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo and her deputy, Tandi Mahambehlala, are at each other’s throats over the control of the government agency set up to champion media development and diversity.
The bickering between Dlodlo and Mahambehlala has become so acrimonious that the latter reported it to President Jacob Zuma, saying she refused to be “treated like a personal assistant” of the minister.
Determining who should be in charge of the Media Development and Diversity Agency lay at the heart of the conflict between Dlodlo and her deputy, Mahambehlala told the Sunday Times this week.
The revelation comes amid talk in Zuma’s inner circle that the president is unhappy with Dlodlo for allowing the SABC interim board to wield the axe against his backers at the public broadcaster.
The tension between Dlodlo and Mahambehlala became apparent during a portfolio committee meeting in Parliament this week, when the two contradicted each other about why the MDDA was riddled with problems and how to resolve them.
Mahambehlala said after the meeting that she was responsible for the MDDA and did not take kindly to Dlodlo’s interference.
“[Dlodlo’s] interference . . . on the MDDA . . . is what put us where we are today . . . We decided to make a submission to the president . . . because [he] . . . is our boss.
“I am accountable to the president — and not the minister — because I’m not a PA of the minister,” said Mahambehlala.
“If your colleague has a particular attitude in terms of approaching things you are supposed to be working on together, it’s not going to solve anything.
“She gave me delegation on the MDDA but she dares come to the committee without having my ear on the presentations . . .”
Presidency spokesman Bongani Ngqulunga confirmed Mahambehlala’s submission. “It is being looked into,” he said.
Dlodlo admitted there were differences.
I’m still in charge
“The DM [Mahambehlala] and I agree there are problems. But remember it’s a delegation of power, not a transfer of authority. And if you read the cabinet memo — jointly done by the Department of Public Service and Administration and the Treasury — it’s very specific on that.
“Even in my time as a deputy minister, I had problems with it, but we have a legal framework . . .
“I have not transferred my authority, I have delegated my authority,” said Dlodlo.
At the committee meeting in parliament, where the two were seated metres apart, Mahambehlala said she wanted the Special Investigating Unit to investigate the MDDA after CEO Donald Diphoko was fired for cancelling tenders believed to have been awarded irregularly.
Mahambehlala also claimed Dlodlo was happy to work with the MDDA board even though it had no quorum — because three members are serving instead of six.
“The minister continues to embrace a trio of illegal characters that are running a state entity to the ground,” said Mahambehlala.
Dlodlo said the matter could be resolved without roping in the SIU and there was no need to “act irrationally”.