Department of Communications in disarray?

In an update given to parliament today (4 June 2013), Minister of Communications Dina Pule confirmed that she stripped Rosey Sekese, the Director General (DG) of the Department of Communications (DoC), of her responsibilities over human resources.

“This was done because since January [2013], the Department had moved with speed to fill vacancies in the senior management level – an area that had hamstrung the Department’s ability to deliver services in recent years,” the DoC said in a statement today.

However, according to an anonymous source who provided MyBroadband with this information in April 2013, this is part of a move to exclude Sekese from operations.

Both Sekese and Pule have been embroiled in scandals, with Pule now facing the parliamentary ethics committee and the Public Protector for alleged cronyism, while Sekese’s conduct led to her being placed on “special leave”.

Dina Pule
Dina Pule

It emerged before the parliamentary portfolio committee on communications that Sekese had not signed her performance agreement, despite Deputy Minister of Communications Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams reporting to parliament that she had.

Ndabeni-Abrahams said she apologised to the committee when she discovered the truth, saying that she had been given incorrect information by the DG.

On special leave and Labour Court battles

In her statement to parliament today, Pule said that she placed Sekese on special leave during December 2012 on advice from the Minster of Public Service and Administration.

According to Pule, Sekese then took the matter before the Labour Court, which overturned the special leave. However, the Sunday Independent reported that Sekese resorted to legal action when she found herself locked out of her office upon return from her special leave.

DoC security reportedly threatened to evict her and the police were called to remove her from the office.

Wisani Ngobeni (Left) and Gift Buthelezi (Right)
Wisani Ngobeni (Left) and Gift Buthelezi (Right)

Following Sekese’s return, Minister Pule said she decided to review the delegations of authority and re-assigned all human resource responsibilities to a Deputy Director General (DDG) in the Department.

The anonymous source and media reports name Gift Buthelezi, DDG of international affairs at the DoC, as the new person in charge of HR matters. Buthelezi was also Acting Director General in Sekese’s absence.

Media reports say that there are rumours that the Ministry was working to sideline Sekese before the scandal in parliament, and that for all intents and purposes Buthelezi is still considered the Acting DG of the DoC despite Sekese’s return.

No disciplinary action being taken

“The process to find an appropriate way of dealing with the matter involving the Director-General is on-going and is subject to legal considerations,” the DoC said in its statement today.

“Minister Pule is working with the Minister of Public Service and Administration to bring this matter to a speedy close.”

In an emergency briefing with the media held in Pretoria recently, DDG of Administration, Sam Vilakazi said that there was no disciplinary process against Sekese at that point in time.

Should there ever be such proceedings, Vilakazi said that they request the opportunity to deal with the matter internally “because it involves people”.

He intimated that no-one would want the fact that there is an internal disciplinary process ongoing against them reported in the media, especially before it has been concluded.

DoC officials at this previous press briefing went on to assure media that there was no confusion at the department and that the work of the DoC was continuing.

DoC Team - Rosey Sekese, Dina Pule, Themba Phiri
Dina Pule flanked by Rosey Sekese (left) and Themba Phiri (right)

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Department of Communications in disarray?