Communications DG locked out of her office

Rosey Seseke, South Africa’s communications director-general (DG), had to seek legal advice to have her “special leave” lifted after being locked out of her office.

Seseke was placed on special leave in December, with matters coming to a head in March when she tried to return to the office only to find the keys to her office had been changed.

Security guards threatened to evict Seseke if she refused to leave and the police were also called in to remove her from the building.

Seseke has since returned to work with The Sunday Independent newspaper reporting an out-of-court settlement had been reached between Seseke and communications minister Dina Pule. This is according to unnamed top officials who were not allowed to talk to the media.

However, Pule allegedly still refers to Gift Buthelezi as the “acting director-general”, despite Seseke’s return.

Buthelezi filled Seseke’s position when she was placed on special leave in December.

According to the Sunday Independent, it has seen a letter addressed to Buthelezi the day after Seseke returned, which included staff structures and strategic planning, to which Buthelezi refused to comment on.

“The department now has a DG and an acting DG. People are still going to her because she is the DG, but she does not have any responsibilities,” the Sunday Independent quoted a Department of Communications (DoC) employee as saying.

Furthermore the employee said the DoC saw the suspension of three other people last week and interviews were being conducted with candidates for the chief financial officer position. Seseke apparently knows nothing of these processes.

Seseke has referred all queries to her lawyer, Sandile July, who said they consider the special leave to be suspension in another form.

Pule has not provided any reasons for placing Seseke on special leave.

Sekese refused to comment and referred all queries to her lawyer, Sandile July.

July confirmed that Sekese had approached the court to challenge her special leave. He said they considered the leave to be another form of suspension.

“The parties settled, which meant that Mrs Sekese must go back to her job. She is back in the department,” July said.

But The Sunday Independent understands the drama started at the end of March, after Sekese had been on special leave for 60 days without any communication from the department.

July wrote to Pule’s office, saying Sekese no longer wanted to be on special leave. He argued that special leave had to be by agreement.

But when Sekese arrived at the office, she found that the locks on her door had been changed.

The department’s security threatened to evict her, and police were called to remove her from the office.

Sekese, according to the employee, showed the police the correspondence between her and the minister proving she was allowed to be in the office.

But the police sat with Sekese while her lawyers tried to intervene.

Her lawyers apparently reached an agreement with Pule’s office that she would be seconded to another department.

But Sekese would not accept the secondment and gave the department two days to withdraw the offer.

Apparently Pule would not budge, prompting Sekese to approach the Labour Court.

Posted in: Policy

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