Brand SA battle heats up
Embattled Brand SA chief executive Kingsley Makhubela is determined to win the fight for his job against the company’s board.
Makhubela and Brand SA appeared before a conciliation hearing at the Committee for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) on Friday. No resolution was reached and the matter was referred to arbitration, according to a certificate City Press obtained.
Makhubela, who insists he was placed on special leave after uncovering corruption at the company tasked with promoting South Africa’s image, is determined not to go down without a fight.
“Earlier this week their lawyer approached my lawyer and asked if we could discuss a settlement, but I refused. I cannot take money and leave the corruption there,” he told City Press on Friday.
Makhubela, a former ambassador to Portugal and Kenya and former director-general of the department of tourism, has been on special leave since April after deciding to institute a forensic investigation into a R45 million tender for a digital marketing agency.
Since then he has faced a slew of investigations, as well as disciplinary action for sexual harassment, which he was cleared of at a disciplinary hearing.
The board plans to pursue him on further charges, including making a “grossly inappropriate comment ... of an intimidating and threatening nature” to deputy board chair Babalwa Ngonyama about board chair Khanyisile Kweyama, breaking his “special leave” conditions, and of conflict of interest for failing to disclose his relationship with his former brother-in-law. Makhubela insists the charges are baseless.
But now there may be even more allegations.
Makhubela told City Press that the Brand SA representative at the CCMA hearing said the board planned to bring more charges against him and was in the process of obtaining legal advice.
He claims the board has neither formally suspended him nor allowed him to read any reports of investigations into his conduct, which the board commissioned.
“The CCMA commissioner, Moahloli Nyama, said they can’t suspend someone indefinitely and referred the matter to arbitration. All this makes it appear as if there is a witch-hunt,” he said.
“The other new allegations, I don’t even know about them. It is illegal for them to continue to prevent me from going back to work. They need to be forced to take me back.”
Brand SA spokesperson Thoko Modise said in a statement on Friday that the Brand SA board confirms that “both parties attended a conciliation hearing this morning” and “no agreement was reached”.
“This is an ongoing legal process and we are not in a position to update further, owing to the sensitivity of the process. The board will not be drawn into a public debate about this process,” the statement said.
“We respect the confidentiality of an employer-employee relationship and we will continue to do so. The board will communicate on the matter at an appropriate time.”
BrandSA chief executive Kingsley Makhubela BESET