SA’s Director-General of Communications placed on “special leave” by Minister

Department of Communications (DoC) Director-General (DG) Rosey Sekese has been placed on “special leave” by Communications Minister Dina Pule, with the Democratic Alliance (DA) branding her incompetent.

Sekese has been placed on special leave due to having apparently misled the parliament’s portfolio committee in two separate occasions regarding communications concerning her performance contract last year.

The DoC nor minister Dina Pule have yet issued an official statement as to the reasons for Sekese’s leave.

Pule’s action is not surprising since meetings regarding the incidents commenced last year in October and November, but it is unclear as to why Pule has only acted approximately two months later.

Despite the delays in the digital migration involving the DoC, free-to-air broadcasters and the court cases involved, confusion now reigns regarding the version of Sekese’s contract, and who signed it, if any contract was signed at all.

“It became clear, during the two portfolio committee meetings last year, that Ms Sekese had misled the Committee about the status of her performance contract which needed to be signed by both the Minister and the DG,” said Marian Shinn, the Shadow Minister of Communications for the Democratic Alliance.

Shinn added: “It was clear from the way Ms Sekese handled the discussion during the portfolio committee meetings on the issue, that there was a serious breakdown of communication between her and the Minister, so much so that is appeared irreconcilable.”

Shinn noted the legal advice offered by Sekese showed she misunderstood the constitution of a legal contract. This, Shinn said, casts “serious doubt” on her position as DG as well as her ability to fulfill the appropriate responsibilities thereof.

Shinn has also pointed out that Sekese’s initial failure to appear before the Standing Committee to explain her reasons for the under-spending on the Department’s budget indicated Sekese was not willing to be held accountable. Sekese did appear later, however, with “a lame excuse.”

“The unfortunate thing about another potential change of guard at the Department of Communications (DoC) is that this department has been dysfunctional for decades and the forever changing leadership perpetually hampers a department that battles to focus on key communications issues, deliver on its targets appropriately spend its budget,” said Shinn.

A large proportion of South Africa’s economic growth depends on a widespread and affordable communications system that is technologically advanced.

“The DoC is just not capable of delivering this because of its lack of focus on core issues, appropriately skilled and experienced management. This latest turmoil just exacerbates that,” said Shinn.

Sekese is not the first DG that has been suspended from the DoC. Mamodupi Mohlala, the former DG was suspended in 2010. Mohlala was then successful in challenging the suspension and was appointed as the National Consumer Commissioner after an out-of-court settlement, but subsequently left the department.

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