Brand SA bat­tle heats up

CityPress - - News - NICKI GULES [email protected]­press.co.za

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.”

PHOTO: LEON SADIKI

BrandSA chief ex­ec­u­tive Kings­ley Makhubela BE­SET

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