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”.

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